Aspen Times Weekly: A New Year in Wine |

Aspen Times Weekly: A New Year in Wine

by Kelly J. Hayes

Well it’s the day after the day after and I hope that the joy of the celebration exceeded the agony of the hangover. Champagne can wield a double-edged sword.

The year 2014 is here and, while I am already a day late and a dollar or two short, it is time to make a few resolutions on behalf of this column for the coming year. Please understand that when the column is written each week, the focus is on you, the reader. The goal of each and every WineInk is to provide you with something you don’t already know, infuse you with a desire to engage in something new in the world of wine, and perhaps, occasionally make you chuckle.

I decided to contemplate some resolutions to make 2014 a better wine year for both myself and perhaps even for you. So without further adieu, here are the WineInk resolutions for the coming year.

1. Drink Smarter

I was going to say drink more, but the real goal is to make each bottle, each glass, count. Drinking smarter simply means paying attention to what I buy, what I order and what I’m served. Whether it is Beaujolais or Bordeaux doesn’t matter. Notice the maker, consider the region, pause after a whiff and make a mental note, if not an actual note, of what the wine has to offer. It’s not hard. It’s not an exercise. It simply is a way to make the experience of drinking wine more, well, meaningful.

2. Take Advantage of Our Local Wine Community

This valley has such a rich and ripe wine community and sometimes the greatest joy comes from simply walking into a shop or a restaurant and striking up a conversation. Ask a local Somm about a wine on his list or one of the sales guys in the shops about what is on the shelf, then sit back and listen. The level of passion parallels that of local skiers when they rave about the Bowl.

Also, take advantage of the free wine tastings that take place in the local wine shops. Up and down the valley fine wines are poured regularly in wine shops. It doesn’t have to take long and you can try wines you may not otherwise be exposed to. Don’t just go to an event that features something you’re familiar with. Try the stuff you never heard of.

3. Travel Wide and Far

Wine is about the world and getting out into it is the best way to become intimate with a wine. Far may be Napa. Wide may be Argentina. Regardless of where it is, plan a wine trip to a place you’ve never been before. Walk the vineyards. Pick a few grapes. Heaven.

4. Take a Trip Down the Road

I have been negligent in the past couple of seasons of not getting out amongst ‘em in my own backyard. Colorado’s wine bona fides are only getting better and a trip across McClure Pass to see and taste the wines of Paonia, or taking a back road to Palisade, is a worthy exploration. Hell, I might even pack a tent and go visit McElmo Canyon down by the Four Corners again and see what Guy Drew and John Sutcliffe are up to.

5. Drink Young

The last two years have seen spectacular vintages in most of the West Coast. Perfect growing conditions have given winemakers crops that require them to simply get out of the way and let the wines make themselves. OK, that may be a slight exaggeration, but less is more when grapes grow as well as they did in the 2012 and 2013 vintages. It’s time to start tasting these wines and then buying the ones you’d like to hold for a while. There will be a time when you are older that you will wax poetic about the wines of these times.

6. Drink Older

This is one that makes everyone’s list of wine resolutions, but clichés become clichés because they are true. It is time to open those special bottles that you have been saving for the right time. Life is short, drink the good stuff first. Of course, you may have some wines that you are holding, waiting for what is considered to be the optimal time to consume. I get that. But for most of us the wines we have on our shelves, in our racks, or even in our cellars are as good as they will ever get. Uncork them. Enjoy them. It’s time.

7. Write Smarter

This one is on me. Writing smarter means giving each column a little more time. Doing an extra interview. Researching a little more thoroughly, and yes, drinking with a little more contemplation. It means considering the visuals a little sooner so that they truly illustrate and illuminate the words. It means getting the story to my editor, Jeanne, a little earlier so she has time to give it some attention.

As this is the 336th edition of WineInk, you’d think I would have gotten it down by now. I promise to try harder in the New Year.

Kelly J. Hayes lives in the soon-to-be-designated appellation of Old Snowmass with his wife, Linda, and black Lab named Vino. He can be reached at