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Drink More Wine

New Year's resolutions you can keep

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Among all the well-intentioned resolutions we make, there's really only a realistic few. The losing weight, turning vegetarian, and exercising pacts are just too damn tough or time-consuming to fulfill. But if you're scrambling for an achievable, stress-free resolution, look no further than your closest wine bottle. Wine is good for you, good to you, and oodles more fun than a treadmill. Here are a few resolution ideas to get your juices flowing. Resolution #1: Experiment with different categories of wine. Try sipping a smooth glass of tawny or ruby port before or after dinner. Tradition has it that port helps prepare the stomach for food, as well as helps digest after a big meal. Not sure about the veracity of this theory, but it certainly sounds and tastes good to me.

Resolution #2: Open sparkling wines even when Aunt Tilly's not getting married. With falling prices and a high fun quotient, sparklers belong in your belly, not on the shelf.

Resolution #3: Attend at least one wine tasting per month. Bathe your brain with lots of wine since there's only so much you can glean from others' ramblings. Besides, who knows more about what you like than you?

Resolution #4: Branch out from Chardonnay and Cabernet. With hundreds of other grape varietals out there, it's time to explore. Wineries are planting more diverse vines to dig us out of the rut, so support their efforts with this grape study calendar:
January: Cabernet Franc. A big, bad-ass red grape used for blending in Bordeaux. Great for the cold weather. Labels to look for: Geyser Peak, Columbia Winery, Pride Mountain.
February: Petite Sirah. Misunderstood, this grape is only distantly related to its close namesake, Syrah. Full bodied, with flavors of plums and black cherry dominating. Seek out: Foppiano, Bogle, Guenoc.
March: Shiraz/Syrah. You say Shiraz, I say Syrah. Same grape, different countries. Medium bodied, fruit driven and fabulous. Explore these: Wolf Blass (AU), Columbia Crest (US), Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone (FR).
April: Barbera [bar-BEAR-uh]. Light, fun and versatile, Italian Barbera is both the name of the wine and the grape. Look for ones from the Asti and Alba regions -- on the label as "Barbera d'Asti" or "d'Alba." Good producers: Vietti, Bruno Giacosa.
May: Riesling. Ahh, Riesling, the quintessential food-loving spring wine. Drink dry, sweet or in-between. Faves: Covey Run, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Dr. Loosen.
June: Viognier [VEE o NYAY]. Smells like summer flowers and tastes like rich tropical fruit. Once you try it, you'll forget Chard. Try: Bonterra, Pepperwood Grove, Cline.
July: Sauvignon Blanc. Perfect on a hot summer's day by the pool. Citrusy, this refreshing white goes down easy. The best: Brancott, Kim Crawford, St. Supery.
August: Pinot Gris/Grigio. Dry as a desert with powerful thirst-quenching abilities. Light and white, Pinot Gris is a delicious addition to a late summer picnic. Look for: King Estate, Rex Hill, Luna di Luna.
September: Gewurztraminer [geh-VERTS-trah-mee-ner]. With the spicy colors outside, nothing's better than a glass of smooth, spicy Gewurz. Great with that bowl of chili you're craving. Top producers of this white wonder: Alexander Valley Vineyards, Hogue, Trimbach.
October: Pinot Noir. Just now getting some well-deserved attention, Pinot is the perfect fall weather wine since the medium-bodied juice warms the soul. Good ones: Argyle, Edmeades, Chateau St. Jean.
November: Sangiovese/Chianti. Sangiovese, the main grape in Chianti, rocks when introduced to food and is fruity enough to be drunk alone. Look for these: Atlas Peak (Sangiovese), Antonori (Chianti), Ruffino (Chianti).
December: Zinfandel. Friendly, warming Zins are versatile. They can be zesty and spicy or fruity and light-hearted. Explore them all. Names to know: Karly, Peachy Canyon, Rancho Zabaco.

E-mail corkscrew@creativeloafing.com or snail mail to Corkscrew, 1310 E. Ninth Avenue, Tampa, FL 33605.

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