With the holidays here, I thought a few wishes were in order. I've been pretty good this year, so hopefully Santa is listening right now...
I wish more restaurants offered free corkage once a week. If they would just pick their slowest night of the week, and then allow anyone to bring in a bottle for no charge, my guess is they would double the covers they usually get on that night. They would also develop a loyal following among the wine and food geek crowd. Wouldn't we go out to dinner more often, if we knew we could go to a restaurant with our own wine, and not feel like we're crashing the party? Imagine if a high-end restaurant like Daniel took the lead here. (I can't ever bring myself to eat again at places where I know how soaked I'll get for a bottle of wine.)
I wish I could find a way to grow winter truffles right in my own backyard, and do it year-round.
I wish for more screw caps on whites and reds. Anything meant to be consumed within a year should have a screw cap, plain and simple. That takes the drain off the cork supply, and allows for more mature cork bark to be harvested for bottles meant for long-term aging. (I love the idea of screw cap freshness for wines not meant to age, but am not yet completely sold on the long term benefits of wine under screw cap). How about Georges Duboeuf leading the way here—isn't it time to put Beaujolais Nouveau under screw cap?
I wish everyone would try something new once a month. Try a wine you've never heard of, from a region you know nothing about. By the end of the year, you'll have had a case of wine that broadens your knowledge and tastes. From Greece to South Africa. From the Santa Rita Hills to Corbières. There's so much out there—don't miss it because you got stuck with your usual favorites.
I wish every retailer would take the time to install temperature-controlled storage in his or her cellar. Why do wines taste better when you taste them at the winery where they were made? Because they haven't been cooked in a retailer's basement before you bought them, that's why. It only costs a few thousand dollars to insulate a room and install a decent cooling system. Any serious collector does it for his wine—why don't retailers do it for their wines? If they did, I'm sure their customers would thank them with their loyalty—which is something to consider as more people turn to the Internet to buy their wines, in search of the cheapest price.
And while we're on storage, I wish importers and distributors would start taking better care of their wines as well. Too many still don't use refrigerated containers to bring the wines into the country. And even if they do, just a few hours waiting on the dock before being loaded onto unrefrigerated trucks to head to the unrefrigerated distributor's warehouse is all it takes to ruin good wine. Is a bonded, temperature-controlled warehouse and refrigerated trucks really that much to ask? Importers and distributors make a healthy profit off the hard work of winemakers—so it should be their responsibility to ensure that hard work doesn't turn into rhubarb-juice because of poor handling.
I wish that Châteauneuf-du-Pape's hot streak continues for a while longer. There hasn't been a less-than-outstanding vintage since 1998, save for 2002. Including the promising 2006s, that's eight out of nine vintages. When is the last time a major wine region could say that? I haven't had this much fun building verticals in my cellar since, well, never...
For my last wish, I wish that none of your (or my) wines are corked, and that you all have a happy and healthy holiday season!
And if you've got a holiday wish for the wine world, let me know. Santa reads everything...