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The one (and only) wine resolution you need to make in 2012

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Actually, let's stay away from the word "resolution." Because we all know how well those New Year's resolutions tend to work out, don't we? For 2012, we'd like to recommend you take a radical yet stunningly simple approach when it comes to drinking wine: Make it a lifestyle.

Not your entire lifestyle, mind you. You'll still need to go to work, pay your bills and sleep. But instead of looking at wine as some kind of novel trend to occasionally dabble in (or worse, something you're intimidated by), we want you to see it for what it really is: an essential element to living a full -- and dare we say -- stellar life. If you're the kind of person who makes an effort to seek out the best restaurants, or who buys and cooks with incredible ingredients, then making the pursuit, consumption and enjoyment of wine a regular part of your routine should be a no-brainer. So let's get you started, shall we? Here are six simple ways to create -- and embrace -- a lifestyle that celebrates everything wine.

Drink more [grower] bubbly: Did you ever stop to wonder why we don't pop bottles of...um, pinot noir on New Year's Eve? There's something utterly magical about sparkling wine -- and it's not just for celebrations anymore. You can scoop up perfectly delightful bottles of bubbles for less than $15, but if you really want to be in the cool crowd, embrace the grower Champagne movement. Just think of grower bubbly as you do your favorite indie bands: They're edgy, cool, and they always rock your world. Plus, it just feels better to drop $50 on a bottle of something that hasn't shown up in a Wiz Khalifa video.

Start or join a regular wine-tasting group: One surefire way to make sure you practice tasting (note we did not say "drinking") wine and developing your palate is to assemble a group of your fellow wine lifestyle aspirants, pick a theme (or a region, or a grape variety), consume the bottles everyone brings and then talk about each one. That's it. No hefty price tags, no fancy-schmancy rules to follow. Well, there is just one: Take note (and a photo of the label) of the wines you enjoyed, then go out and buy them. Do this every month for the rest of the year.

Join a wine-of-the-month club: Speaking of monthly wine habits, here's one that makes bringing a variety of new and interesting bottles into your life as easy as a click of your mouse. Subscribing to a monthly wine-delivery service lets your tastebuds do the talking. But don't be tempted to just sign up for a recurring shipment of the same mass-produced labels you've been sipping for years. The idea, people, is to bark up a new tree; you wouldn't robotically eat a grilled chicken breast for dinner night after night, would you? Spend thirty minutes on the Internet to find a service you like and sign up, already. One we're particularly fond of at the moment is clubw.com, which features scrumptious (and reasonably priced) wines chosen by Table 6 frontman-sommelier Aaron Forman.

Buy a set of real glasses: Don't make that face. The quality of glassware you use to swirl, sip and savor your favorite juice has a major impact on your impression of the beverage itself. There are plenty of brands and price points to choose from, so you don't necessarily need to blow the kids' college fund on a set (but we sure do love us some Riedel). If you're just starting out, look for glasses made of lead crystal and pick an all-purpose shape that can work for both reds and whites. We dare you to try this and report anything less than a convincing result.

Revisit varieties you think you hate: The funny thing about preconceived notions in the wine world is that they're all pretty much complete bullshit. Blind tastings prove this all the time. Your challenge for 2012 is to jettison all that baggage (merlot sucks, dessert wines are horrific) once and for all. Here's how: Find a reputable wine merchant in your neighborhood. Confess your sins to the understanding and sympathetic (trust us, they've heard this before) salesperson. Allow them to recommend to you bottles of a variety you think you despise, in styles (or from regions) you've likely never tried. See the light.

Book a wine-themed getaway: What's more fun than a vacation? One that involves wine, of course. Trips like these can range from vineyard getaways in our own back yard (think Evergreen or Palisade) to circling the globe and exploring the wines of Portugal, Greece or South Africa. If you were to close your eyes and point to a spot on a map of the world, chances are pretty good that you'll land on a region that produces wine. Bonus: Immersing yourself in the local culture will yield all kinds of intel on the essence of food-and-wine pairing at its best. Pack your bags: The first leg of your journey to a new wine lifestyle starts now.

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Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.