16 Wine Resolutions for 2016 from Top Sommeliers

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By Carson Demmond Posted December 28, 2015

Sommeliers from around the country share their wine goals for the New Year.

Each December, my husband and I plot out the restaurants we want to be sure to try in the New Year. We include recent openings, long New York City mainstays that for some reason we have yet to make it to, and the odd hole-in-the-wall or eatery mentioned to us by someone whose palate we trust. This year, I looked at the list and noticed that he had added something outside the usual confines of our purely dining agenda: “Drink more Chablis.”

It’s a worthy cause, and he certainly won’t have to twist my arm to help him accomplish it. But it got me thinking that our friends in other parts of the country might similarly have "wine resolutions"—whether they're goals they’ve set for their restaurant beverage programs or adjustments to their wine drinking habits at home. As it turns out, everyone has great plans for 2016, listed in no particular order below. I may just adopt a few of them myself. In many cases, they offer a clear window into what regions and themes will shape our drinking landscape in the coming year.

Here, 16 wine resolutions from sommeliers around the country:

"This is the year that I put in a real effort to convince my clientele that Riesling can be a legitimate world-class and age-worthy wine.” —Jay Esopenko, Union Larder, San Francisco

“Drink more whites from Alentejo in Portugal, like Antão Vaz and arinto! They’re hard to pronounce, which keeps the drinking proletariat from diving in, but their mouthfeel and minerality is similiar to Muscadet, and they can be equally as delicious. Sometimes we have to learn to pronounce things in scary, unfamiliar languages to find the right wine.” —Matthew Kaner, Augustine Wine Bar, Sherman Oaks

“I want to bridge the gap in our wine program between being fun and interesting and being approachable for our guests, not making anyone feel intimidated. I've been slowly changing my approach, and I've found that the best way to strike that balance is to ask guests what the last wine was that made them say 'wow.' Was it white or was it red? Was it French or Californian, or Slovenian? Do you want to go off-roading or do you want to stick with your classics? I think this is my long way of saying my wine resolution is to be a better listener, and to help my guests feel comfortable and at ease so that I can help them find THEIR wine; after all, they are the reason I am here.” —Jared Hooper, Faith & Flower, Los Angeles

“I resolve to drink more beer and cocktails. I have wine drinking covered; it’s time to diversify!” —Lauren Daddona, L’Espalier, Boston

“I spent the better part of a decade cutting my teeth on the numerous and complicated wine regions of Italy. I'm looking forward to exploring international classics more professionally in the New Year. Champagne and the new school of Aussies will get an early focus, and I'm excited to immerse myself in the wines from emerging dynamos such as the Finger Lakes, Patagonia, Swabia, etc. Of course I'll always keep one foot firmly planted in my ‘home soil,’ but I'll be covering as much ground as possible with the other, pretty much immediately after I shake my New Year’s Eve Franciacorta hangover!” —Steve Wildy, Vetri Family, Philadelphia

"My wine resolution is to shake up my wine-buying habits, which mostly means more New World wines. I'm guilty of neglecting South America, Australia and California, and I intend to fix that in 2016." —Justin Vann, Public Services Wine & Whisky, Houston

“My resolution? Drink even more nebbiolo! I fell in love with Barolo, Barbaresco and Piedmont in general before I could afford red Burgundy, but I was recently reminded of how great these wines are with food (and on their own), and how I should be drinking more year-round, not just during the cold season.” —Thomas Pastuszak, The NoMad Hotel, New York

“I’m going to take the second level Cicerone exam because I love drinking beer and want to nerd out on it. I also plan to visit my NYC wine friends and experience the awesomeness they are doing in person rather than via Twitter.” —Josiah Baldivino, Bay Grape, Oakland

“Actually sell all this Lambrusco I just bought.” —Steven Grubbs, Empire State South, Atlanta

 “I have three: (1) drink a different Chenin Blanc every day, (2) finally visit Barolo and (3) find a direct line of supply for Cantillon and 3 Fonteinen—my favorite Belgian beers—for our shift drinks at Rouge!” —Pascaline Lepeltier, Rouge Tomate, New York

“Last week, I enacted the first step in fulfilling my resolution, which was to drink more well-aged old northern Rhône reds. A couple bottles of mid- to late-‘90s Rostaing, Jamet and Guigal Côte-Rôtie that I ordered just landed here, along with some '01 Sorrel Hermitage. I may have to ring in 2016 a week early, but they are definitely earmarked for birthdays and holidays this next year.” —Eric Larkee, The Genuine Hospitality Group, Miami

“To step out of my comfort zone and taste as much from Eastern Europe as I can. It’s an area that is seeing a crazy upswing in quality right now.” —Brahm Callahan MS, Himmel Hospitality Group, Boston

“I plan to focus on South Africa. There are guys down there doing incredible things with incredible plant material, much of it super old and some pre-phylloxera. Intense varietal wines, a new wave of Cape Blend whites, and some new and interesting reds are just now coming into the market—all with incredible value-to-quality ratio. Great stuff to get excited about for the coming year!” —Patrick Bennett, Colicchio & Sons, New York

“Drinking at home in 2016 is going to be all about aged wines. Opening wine hailing from classic regions, made by spectacular producers, that are well-developed and in their optimum drinking window. Mature, honeyed Champagne, great red Burgundy, and old-school, traditionally made syrah from the northern Rhône are what have me the most excited. I have a few things in the queue that I'm really looking forward to cracking.” —Bobby Conroy, Benu, San Francisco

 “I’d love to visit a cooperage in France, and a winery in Tokaji, Hungary!” —Cortney Lease, Wild Ginger, Seattle

“My biggest resolution for 2016 is getting my own restaurant opened! My last day at Ava Gene's is the 31st, and I have plans for a small natural wine restaurant here in Portland this spring. Stay tuned!” —Dana Frank, Ava Gene’s, Portland

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