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Wine Enthusiast Podcast: New Year, New Wine Resolutions

With a New Year upon us, there’s no better time to consider how we can up our wine-loving game and live our best wine lives. Sure, we all have the standard “new year, new you” items to add to the checklist—lose weight, eat better, connect with friends, appreciate family, and more—but when it comes to wine, what can we be doing differently to better embrace the best that the wine world has to offer?

Enter New Years’ Wine Resolutions. As we look to the positive possibilities for 2021, we mustn’t forget to consider wine habits and how we can switch ‘em up to make them even better and exciting for the year ahead. After all, your wine mind and your tastebuds will thank you for it!

To explore the possibilities, Managing Editor Lauren Buzzeo speaks with Contributing Editor Christina Pickard to come up with some wine goals for 2021, from tasting more to starting a wine club, and discussing how to actually accomplish them, especially in our socially-distanced world.

For more options to get your learn on from home, visit Wine Enthusiast Academy for more information about virtual WSET classes, and our Basics page for great beginner wine content.

Also, check out our Master Class series for inspiration on comparative flights to taste at home or with your (existing or new-to-come) wine club.

Episode Transcript

Transcripts are generated using a combination of speech recognition software and human transcribers, and may contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting.

Speakers: Lauren Buzzeo, Christina Pickard

Lauren Buzzeo 0:08
Hello, and welcome to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast, your serving of wine trends and passionate people beyond the bottle. I’m Lauren Buzzeo, the managing editor at Wine Enthusiast, and in this episode, we’re embracing the New Year upon us and considering how we can be living our best wine-lover lives with some new year’s wine resolutions. Sure, we all have the standard New Year, new you items to add to the checklist—lose weight, eat better, connect with friends, appreciate family, etc—but when it comes to wine, what can we be doing differently to better embrace the best that the wine world has to offer? To help me explore the possibilities, I talk with Contributing Editor Christina Pickard to come up with some wine goals for 2021, from tasting more to starting a wine club, and discussing how to actually accomplish them, especially in our current socially distanced world. So grab a glass of something fun and festive and check out how we plan to be better wine lovers throughout the year ahead.

So here we are, New Year’s Eve 2020. We made it through this crazy, crazy year. And we are looking ahead to the year to come 2021 to better things to new and exciting things. And talking about this new year ahead, we have Christina Pickard, our contributing editor who reviews wines of Australia and New Zealand. Christina, thanks for talking with me today.

Christina Pickard 1:37
My pleasure. I don’t think any of us are going to be sad to see the back of 2020, are we?

Lauren Buzzeo 1:42
I really don’t think so. I mean, you know, there of course were some good things and some silver linings as always, you got to look at the bright side.

Christina Pickard 1:50
You had a baby, that was a good thing. You had a beautiful baby girl.

Lauren Buzzeo 1:53
The baby was good. She’s sweet. But no, otherwise, it was a pretty stressful, emotional, chaotic, trying year on so many levels.

Christina Pickard 2:02
There are so many adjectives for 2020.

So many adjectives. So yeah, indeed, I don’t think anyone’s really going to be shedding too many tears for the end of 2020. So you know, looking ahead, the question on everybody’s mind is always, you know, what are you going to do in the year ahead? What are you going to do better? What are you going to do different? What are your resolutions? So, you know, there’s the typical, I’m going to eat better. I’m going to work out. Both of those things are obviously on my list. What about you? Do you have any general resolutions in mind for the year ahead?

Yeah, mine are kind of boring like that, too. Like, okay, I ate so many baked goods. And usually it’s like just at Christmas. And it was like this whole year. I was like lots of baked goods, lots of gin, lots of martinis. I am not a dry January fan for obvious reasons. But I was like, yeah, now I probably need to like back off the baked goods and maybe cut down on the martinis.

Lauren Buzzeo 2:57
I think that’s probably true for a lot of people definitely in these, you know, Covid-era times, there was a lot more baking and consumption that was going on. So yeah, not a bad idea to try to pare it back, rein it in a little bit in the year ahead.

Christina Pickard 3:13
We’ll see if that succeeds. It depends on how 2021 shapes up, right?

Lauren Buzzeo 3:18
Exactly. We’ll see. Knock on wood. Alright, we both have like, you know, some of the typical stuff going on, like the world. But let’s talk about wine resolutions, let’s let’s try to look at 2021 as the year that we are going to break out of our boxes maybe or drink a little bit better or more mindfully in the year ahead. Not just, you know, maybe as a little bit of an escapism, but with a little bit more thought. So along those lines, I wanted to talk to you about coming up with maybe some wine resolutions for 2021. What do you think about that?

Christina Pickard 3:53
Sure, sure. Let’s do it.

Lauren Buzzeo 3:56
Cool. So talk about breaking out of your box, it’s really easy to fall into a wine rut, right?And like default to the things that you know, and love. And it’s great for people to have connections to certain brands or varieties, and have those be your go-tos and consistent comforts, if you will. But I’m going to venture to say that one of my top wine resolutions for the year is to drink differently, try new things. And I say this year after year and I always strive to but I really want to make a very conscious effort to try new things. And that’s not even just like new regions or varieties, but also just you know, new brands, new stories, new angles to consider for my consumption. What do you think about that?

Christina Pickard 4:44
Yeah, I mean, for sure. I think that we all do that. And I mean, even those of us in the industry like you and I who are fortunate enough to get to literally taste wine tasting review wine for a living like I think that I find myself just getting like a little bit lazy And also a little bit cheap, in that I’m like, ‘Ah, I’m drinking Aussie, New Zealand wines, like these wines are here that that’s just what I’m going to what I’m going to drink.’ And then I find myself, you know, like realizing that I haven’t had anything outside those two countries in months. And that’s partly me just being like, ‘I don’t want to spend the money, I’ve got this wine here, like, lucky me, right?’ But also, it’s from a professional perspective, I think it’s not great, because I’m always like, I need to be able to try, you know, I’m tasting all the Shiraz, for example, a Syrah from France, like on a regular basis, I should be able to have the perspective and I should be doing that more. So there’s the professional side of it. And then there’s also the money side, where I’m just like, ‘Ah, you know, I don’t want to spend the money this one is here.’ And it’s certainly like drinking outside of your comfort zone means that it’s, you know, a little bit more of a, well, it’s a lot more of a financial risk that you’re going to take there too. But I also find every time I do like when I get myself into my local wine shop, or these days on the website of my local wine shop, and just kind of start ordering stuff, I’m like, I’ve never heard of this and I’ve had even certain grape varieties that I am not super familiar with or haven’t had a lot, or just countries that I think I overlook. And Lauren, I hate to say this talking to you, but I definitely feel like South Africa I overlook way too much. And so I’m like, you know what? I really need to start drinking more South African wine. And I need to just start going on my local shops website and just starting to click. I might regret that when the Visa bill comes at the end of the month, but like, almost never disappointed. Even if I get a bottle or two that I’m like, okay, that wasn’t my favorite. But I’m always grateful that I tried it. And often, It surprises me in a really good way.

So totally. So I mean, first of all, anytime you want to talk South Africa, you know, I’m here for you, I’m more than happy to. And good news, you don’t need to, you know, spend a fortune on high quality wines. South Africa, I’m sure you could say the same for Australia, New Zealand, I’m sure actually all of our reviewers can say the same for all of their regions. There are great wines to be found in that, you know, $10 to $20 price range that’s totally accessible, and that are really going to please your palate and make you really happy and not regret buying a bottle that you weren’t entirely familiar with from the get go, right?

Yeah, for sure.

Lauren Buzzeo 7:20
So there’s a lot of great resources; obviously, our ratings and reviews. But, you know, you bring up an interesting point, which is that you get stuck in Australia, New Zealand, you admit that you haven’t, you know, maybe could broaden your tasting and your knowledge in South Africa. And then you mentioned talking to me about it. So I think another great angle to explore for the new year to broaden your knowledge and your tasting experience would be to try and form like a wine tasting group or a club. There are so many local opportunities, but I hear all the time that it’s really hard for people to either A) know how to set something up, or B) how to find what’s available in their area. I know that you actually set up your tasting club in Hudson, right?

Christina Pickard 8:05
In Kingston, actually, in the Hudson Valley, but in Kingston in the mid Hudson Valley.

Lauren Buzzeo 8:10
Okay, so how did how do you go about you got some tips for how to go about setting up a tasting club, especially I guess, in this day and age when it’s really hard for people to get face to face to taste together?

Christina Pickard 8:21
Yeah, sure. I mean, I think the best way is to just tell my story about setting it up briefly. And obviously, I this was all done in a pre-Covid age. And hopefully there will be a post-Covid age in the not too distant future. So this will hopefully be relevant, as well as then thinking about how to do this during a pandemic. But basically, I had just moved to, to the Hudson Valley. So this was 2015. So five years ago, and didn’t know a soul, I didn’t know anybody. And you know, there was a lonely six months or so where I remember going to, you know, our local little natty wine bar and just sitting at the bar, kind of by myself and feeling sorry for myself for a little while, and then meeting through kind of just hanging out of that bar for a while and chatting with the owners, met the owners and met some other wine reps, so some other people in the wine industry. And then I remember just being like, I’m just gonna do this and put myself out on a limb because they were people who had been born and raised here, or the owners had been here for several years and just being like, let’s start a wine club. I’m really missing a connection from, you know, an industry perspective, but just like I don’t know of anybody to geek out on wine with. It turned out they had had similar ideas and had been wanting to start a wine club, but I think just kind of needed somebody to kind of get the ball rolling. So it was really initially just about kind of taking that risk and reaching out and I would say to do that in a pandemic, the best way is probably social media. You know, if you’re active, whatever platform you’re on, just put yourself out there. Reach out and put a post out and just say hey, I really want to start a wine club. Is anybody interested? And It might just end up, you know, depending on where you live, it might just be like two or three of you, but like, trust me, the word gets out. Because we actually have had trouble in feeling a little bit like one of those clubs that has to like turn people away. As silly as that sounds, but we, our format is that and this is, again, in pre-Covid times, but we were meeting at people’s houses rotating at people’s houses, and whoever was hosting would would cook dinner, and we would all bring a bottle, taste blind, different themes. And I can go into that later, if you want, but different themes, variations, we would have variations on this. But that was the general format was that whoever’s hosting would cook dinner, and everybody would bring a bottle, and we tasted blind within that theme. So it’s hard, if that’s your format, it’s hard when it starts getting bigger than that. But I feel like that format works, even if you’re two or three people. And it works up to maybe 10 people, but you know, you decide how many, or how little and it obviously does depend on where you live. But I do think that it’s okay to just have a few people in the beginning and just put it out there, whether it’s through social media, or whether it’s in person, you know, when we can go out and do that again, just go and like go to a cool bar, go to an independent wine shop, start talking to the owner at the wine shop, or the bartenders or whatever, and just saying like, Hey, you know, I really want to learn more about wine, I would love to either be part of something that exists, or in many cases, it may just be you going, ‘Well, I don’t see that it exists in my community, so I’m gonna do something about that.’

Yeah. And you know, what, I’m sure that local shops would be a great resource for other people who are who may be interested in such a thing as well, right? Even if it doesn’t exist, they can help you either spread the word with other customers that they know that would be interested in participating, putting up flyers, you know, whatever the case may be. But they’re great resources, especially after you consider you know, if you are going to do some some themes, or some more, you know, structured tasting, if you will, they would be great resources to help you even make selections.

Absolutely. And a lot of those little shops might do their own tastings. And these days, they might be virtual, but hopefully back in person at some point. But that’s also a good way to, if you’re at the in person, one to just start chatting to whoever. Go to those tastings and start talking to whoever’s at those tastings. And even the virtual ones, you might be able to, you know, reach out to the wine shop and say like, ‘Hey, is there any way you could put me in touch with any of these other people who showed up.” But, you know, I think once you like I say, once you just have two or three people like that, that ball will get rolling pretty quickly, and the word will get out. So you know, I don’t think that… there might be an initial, a little bit of initial work just reaching out to people. But I think maybe the harder part for us has been, you know, this has been going for almost five years now. And I would say the harder part is just keeping it going. When everybody has busy schedules and through a pandemic. So we’ve definitely had to, you know, to sort of morph the format of our club and to kind of take it month by month. So we started out meeting monthly, and over the years, like, depending on how busy and time of year, like sometimes we might skip a month. So we’re not really, you know, really tied to having it be once a month, but I do find like at the end of each wine club, we all you know, get out our phones, get out our calendars and book in another night when we’re there. And if we don’t do that, that’s when we kind of might let let it go for six weeks or eight weeks, you know, and go, ‘Oh, darn, we haven’t we haven’t booked in another date.’ So that would be another tip is like booking at the end of each, you know, each one or find, you know, decide you’re going to do every, you know, first Monday of the month, or whatever you want to do. That helps. Just expect that everybody’s busy and has different schedules. And so, you know, it might be monthly to start but then you know, after it’s been going for a while, maybe you that might shift and just be flexible enough to know that that’s okay. It’s a wine club.

Lauren Buzzeo 14:11
Which I think is probably like the greatest resolution for this year coming and every year ever, you know, every year to come since. Is just remember that this is wine, it’s supposed to be fun and enjoyable. You’re supposed to have a good time, you’re supposed to laugh. And again, enjoy yourself, have fun, don’t take yourself too seriously. I think that that’s a pitfall that unfortunately too many people fall in that it needs to be very, you know, serious and structured and pinkies out and that’s totally not what it needs to be. Whatever you could do to just have a good time, enjoy yourself, enjoy the wine, enjoy the company, whether it’s in person or virtually, you know, that’s the most important thing here, right? Because that’s what’s going to give you those great experiences and really also gives you even better connection to those wines that you’re discovering and tasting. And the people around you, you know? It’s about the wine community.

Christina Pickard 15:07
Yeah, 100%. And even I mean, even within our wine club, most of us are in the wine industry in some capacity. But there’s also a few that aren’t at all that are just like the partners of the person who’s in the wine industry. One is a teacher and is just loves to drink wine, but really isn’t, isn’t it to learn something but isn’t like serious about it. So I would say, that’s okay. Like, don’t get too exclusive about it, either. And know your audience as well. You know, when you’re bringing when you’re bringing a bottle, you know that you might have some people who really want to geek out about it, and some people who don’t, and so there is always that fine line between making sure you keep it inclusive. And also we get fun, like we do quizzes a lot. So whoever’s hosting is the person who decides the theme for that particular night. And so they often will put together a quiz and the quiz is a real mix of serious stuff and fun stuff. And there’s no prizes. It’s purely for fun. When we had to transfer everything online during the pandemic, we had one of our virtual hosts did Jeopardy. There’s a whole program that allows you to write your own Jeopardy questions, and so did a whole Jeopardy game with the theme. And we and in that case, you know, we obviously, couldn’t all bring lines, but we just said, Okay, this is the theme get to bottles. I think there was one time where we all just bought our own within that theme. So we were all drinking something different. And that we did another time where we all bought from our local wine shop, and it happens to be the owner is in our club, so he was he was thrilled with that. And, and we all bought the same bottle. So we were all drinking the same thing. So there’s definitely different… you can all support one shop and say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna go out and buy eight bottles of whatever,’ and you can buy, you know, one white, one red, all from one region you can do. We’ve done like super geeky, like, you know, Irouleguy from, you know, French Basque country. Which is really a deep dive into a really small, fairly obscure region. But then we’ve also done like, a fun like, based on this argument that two of us got into like Chenin Blanc versus Reisling like, ‘What’s better: Chenin Blanc or Reisling?’ Which is silly. Of course, there’s no better it was just fun that we can drink Chenin Blanc and like fight over it in a really jovial way. Or we’ve done Syrah and Shiraz. Or, we’ve also done nights where the host just decided, like I’ve done Australia and separately another time New Zealand and just provided all of the wines. And like geeked out and, you know, printed out a map and everybody got to just learn a little bit more about sort of Australian wine 101 or New Zealand wine 101.

Lauren Buzzeo 17:49
There’s so many things I want to unpack from that last scene. Okay, so first of all Jeopardy, wine Jeopardy, I want in, tell me the next time you’re doing it. And please tell me what that program is or I’m gonna Google it, because that just sounds so awesome.

Christina Pickard 18:04
It’s just normal Jeopardy but then you can write your own questions. It’s amazing.

Lauren Buzzeo 18:07
I love it. I love it. I want it. I’m looking into it the second we end this call. Okay, second of all, I’m talking about in this day and age, we have to do this virtually, I think that you posed some really great options. And so, look, if you’re looking to start a club, social media is going to do a great job of giving you resource to find like minded people who want to participate as well, right? So if you post on a local group, a local page, you find some people who are interested, what’s your next step you’re going to set up? You’re gonna set up something probably on Zoom or whatever to get together. But then how do you choose what you’re going to taste? As you pointed out, you can go with, you know, a theme. We actually have a series of articles on, that are called master classes. They’re a six-bottle master class, and it’s variety based. So it’s Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, and it gives you these really nice couples of, of how to do a comparative tasting, whether it’s Old World versus New World, or stainless steel versus oak aged, just different comparisons. So you can actually try to pinpoint and identify some of the differences in in winemaking technique or in area provenance by tasting those two bottles side by side. So you pick your theme and you can either do like, you know, everybody buys a bottle or two on and it gets delivered to them or everybody brings their own bottle that they’ve identified within the context of the theme. Either way, you get on with a bunch of people with either of those options and you’re guaranteed to have a good time a lively conversation, and a lot of knowledge sharing, which I think, again, is key. There shouldn’t really be any apprehension or anxiety about not knowing something. There’s this great thing called the internet if you’re not 100% sure, chances are the producers website is gonna tell you whatever you’re looking to know. So, you know, you can bring whatever you want to the table and just enjoy it and have fun and enjoy the experience of sharing the bottles, you know, and the experience of tasting them with people that you love. So that’s, that’s a great time.

Christina Pickard 19:42
Yeah, or even if it’s people you don’t, it’s alcohol, so you’ll love them by the end anyway.

Lauren Buzzeo 20:24
I think another key point is to remember your successes, too. You know, I think that you pointed out that sometimes you’re like, you know, you buy a bottle, and you’re like, “Meh.” And other times, you might buy a bottle and you love it. And sure, that might be a little bit more likely to stick in your brain. But a journaling either app or an actual hard journal, you know, those things that you write in with your hand, it’s a great way to act as a memory bank for all of those bottles and different regions, or varieties, or winemakers, or whatever it is that you’re trying, so that you can remember your successes, your hits and your misses, what you generally may prefer and want to try more of if you found a bottle that you liked. But I think that a lot of people just try to internalize all of this information, and there’s just so much wine out there. There’s absolutely no shame in trying to document and have like a virtual memory bank.

Christina Pickard 21:20
Yeah, for sure. Even if at the very least, if I’m just feeling lazy… In the beginning of the wine club, I used to take notes on everything. And then now I’m kind of lazy. And I’ll just take photos of the bottles. But even that, it’s like, I’ll then look back at the photo and be like, ‘Oh, yeah, I really liked that wine,’ and I might remember two or three facts about it. I just have a visual memory. So I’m like, Oh, yeah, I’ve had this wine. And then my all my photos end up becoming, you can just make an album of like, just your wines that you’ve tried. And then you can just, you know, if somebody talks about, ‘Have you ever had, you know, a Chenin from South Africa,’ for example. I’d be like, I don’t know, have I had? Oh, and then I can go back into the album and see, like, I had this one and this one. And, you know, so even if you’re like not the type, you know, it just feels like taking notes feels like a lot. And for some people it might and some people might not. And even within your wine club or your group, there’ll be people at all different levels. Even just a quick picture, at the very least, I think is is good to do. Good habit to get into.

Lauren Buzzeo 22:13
Totally. And that’s the great thing about a lot of these apps on your phone, like you could just snap a picture of the label or even scan the barcode, and it just puts it right away into some sort of inventory system.

Christina Pickard 22:23
You’re getting fancy, Lauren.

Lauren Buzzeo 22:25
I mean, no, I actually prefer the handwritten one. Let me tell you, I like did the label savers for a long time.

Christina Pickard 22:33
I’m kidding. I have so many friends who are like always talking about all these apps that they use, and I’m like, oh, that’s fancy. I just like, I’m so old school. Like I still like to handwrite all my notes. And like, I you know, I just take photos and like I have an album and I put everything in like Word docs. Tim’s like, ‘You know, there a thing called spreadsheets.’ And I’m like, what?

Lauren Buzzeo 22:56
Christina, all of my wine inventory is in Excel. That should just tell you something.

Christina Pickard 23:02
Even Excel is fancy for me.

Lauren Buzzeo 23:05
With handwritten label tags on the necks of the bottles. So, all old school all the way.

Christina Pickard 23:12
Love it.

Lauren Buzzeo 23:14
So let’s just talk about a couple more things real quick. So broadening your wine knowledge, that’s a huge goal. I think, for a lot of people. Especially now, people have a little bit more time, possibly, being home or a little bit more availability to do some online classes, say. So actually, Wine Enthusiast launched the Wine Enthusiast Academy in partnership with WSET to do WSET courses online. But I think you brought up also another interesting point about a lot of local retail shops offering those types of classes to their customers, and potentially with the ease of actually picking bottles for them to taste with these classes that they’re holding virtually. So I think looking for those resources in your area. Have you seen anything else on that front like from a class level of note?

Christina Pickard 24:05
Oh man, that would involve me having spare time and I have two small kids.

Lauren Buzzeo 24:14
I’m with you.

Christina Pickard 24:15
No, you know, like I was trained like fairly classically down the WSET route and I was really thrilled that Wine Enthusiast is offering—I think they’re selling like hotcakes, so if you can get a seat there. But WSETs are offered all over the country, so always a fan of those. Any local, you know, local classes that you can see being offered, whether it’s in a retail or whatever kind of wine space you might have near you are always great. But yeah, if you don’t want to spend the money or you don’t want to commit to that, you know, I think like going back to the wine club thing is just a is just a really low cost way to kind of self explore with a group of other people and you can go as deep dive as you want to go. If you are like us with two small kids, it might be a good way to go because it’s not hugely time consuming either. So there’s options for everybody’s schedule, I think.

Lauren Buzzeo 25:11
And chances are, you can even do these with a little one in your lap. I know I’ve had plenty of Zooms with my newborn, you know, on my on my knee or over my shoulder while I’m listening about the wine and getting my learn on. So, you know, don’t let the little one stop you. It’s okay. They’ll pop in. They’ll take a look at what’s going on on the screen. And chances are they’ll be interested for five minutes and then walk away.

Christina Pickard 25:36
Exactly. Yeah, all those Zoom live, all those Instagram Live master classes that are happening, I think, particularly in the social media realm is doing a really good job of trying to diversify wine. You know, especially like the last six months have been a really, a long overdue and much needed wake up call on that front. And I think social media, I don’t know, I think Instagram particularly seems to be kind of leading the charge in terms of just like seeing, you know, different faces and different people in wine and hearing different perspectives. And those Instagram lives are super easy to just tune into. So yeah, you can kind of tune in for a little while. If you can’t listen to the whole thing you can tune out. But, I don’t know, the ones that I’ve listened to, I’ve always found really educational, if just to get a different perspective. And remember that there is life out there beyond my four walls and my two children.

Lauren Buzzeo 26:26
It’s a good and needed reminder sometimes.

Christina Pickard 26:28
Yes, it is.

Lauren Buzzeo 26:31
So another resolution and I actually wrote a column about this a little while ago. And it seemed to resonate with a few people that emailed me like, ‘Thank you so much.’ It’s this idea that in the year ahead, I’d like to be more proactive in looking at the wines that I have potentially been hoarding and holding on to for too long. And feel free to treat myself on any day of the week that the fancy strikes to opening up anything and everything that I might have my heart and my mouth watering for. And not feeling guilty that it’s not a good enough day or occasion or I don’t have someone specific to enjoy it with or a fancy meal to pair it with. Like, I’m good enough and I can enjoy these things that I have spent time and money on collecting whenever I feel like it and that liberty and that freedom is something I want to embrace a little bit more in the year ahead. Do you find that you have this very common wine hoarding sort of problem also?

Christina Pickard 27:40
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s funny because I had just read your article and like a few days later, I went, it was my husband’s birthday. And we went and stayed out in this Airbnb in the Catskills. And I was like going through my wine fridge, like I should bring a couple special bottles. I’ve got all this stuff just sitting there for that special occasion that I never seem to think is a good enough special occasion to open these wines. And I had had—and I actually put up an Instagram post about it—and was like, it was this bottle of Barolo from this producer Roagna, who is wonderful. And he had given me these bottles back in London. So this was 2004—no, sorry, that one was 2003, I also have a 4 that I need to open. And I opened it and that was a really hot year so I really should have known that that should have probably been opened earlier. But again, I kept going oh no, it’s too special to open for this. It’s too special. And so when I finally did open it for his birthday, it was gone. You know, it was too late. And I was so sad because I could tell that if I had caught it a few years earlier, it would have been magical. And so I think it’s always that fine line between wanting to like hit something at its peak and then just leaving it for so long that you’re like I you know I regret that I didn’t just… I think I would have rather have had it too young than have had it, essentially, dead, which is what it was. So now I’ve got the ’04 in there that I’m like, ‘Oh shit, I need to open this.’ I mean, ’04 was not the year that ’03 was in terms of ’03 everything was baking. But yeah, so it was a really it was really good timing for me to read that article and then to go, ‘Oh, you know what, I’m going to start to open some of this and also to start to give some things as gifts as well.’ You know, I think like the hoarding also applies to me just being like, I want to drink this myself with somebody and then to just be like, no, like I can give this as a gift to somebody who will appreciate it too. So I gave my dad a really special bottle of wine this Christmas, and so that felt good too, to be like I don’t need to just cling on to this bottle forever. I can either open something and enjoy it or or pass pass it on to the people I love.

That’s awesome. Yeah, I actually find that, again, previously, I would struggle with like, either it being not enough people or too many people for this said special bottle, whatever it may be. Whether it was like, oh no for people, then we’ll only have like a little bit that’s not enough to share this one bottle or if it’s only two people, but really I know that these other two people would enjoy this too, so I’m gonna wait until they’re around. Like there’s just so many different excuses and, I don’t know, I just got to a point where I was like, ‘Enough with these excuses. You need to be reason enough alone to enjoy the fruits of your hoarding and collecting nature.’

Absolutely. Yeah. No, I agree. It’s funny the way our mind works around like justifying opening bottles and yeah. I’ve just been doing that with Ochota Barrels, you know, I was saying Taras Ochota are one of the most talented winemakers of the modern Australian winemaking and I have a bunch of his bottles and I was just like, oh my god I’m gonna save these bottles forever. And then I remember will actually like some of them do age beautifully, but a lot of them are really for drinking now or within the first few years. So then I was like, well, I’m going to open it tonight on the last day you know of 2020. It was a tragic year and that we lost him but like what a way to celebrate his life. Where I think maybe before your article, Lauren, I might not have done that. I might have just held on to it forever and then opened it and regretted it.

Lauren Buzzeo 31:19
Admittedly I might be doing that with some of the Alheit Radio Lazarus Chenin Blancs because the the old vine vineyard just stopped producing, but it was beautiful Chenin. And I have like two older vintages of it I’m like, ‘I just I can’t drink these. They were the last ones. There’s never gonna be any more.’ I’m like, you know what, Christina, I think I think I need to share one of those bottles with you after talking about broadening your knowledge of South Africa.

Christina Pickard 31:43
I love Chenin Blanc, I love the Loire, I love Chenin, so there’s no excuse for me not to drink more Chenin in general. I need more in my life. Australia, New Zealand hardly produces Chenin, so I need more in my life, full stop. So I will happily happily drink with you, Lauren.

Lauren Buzzeo 32:08
We can get together in a parking lot.

Christina Pickard 32:12
In a parking lot. A little classier—I was thinking of fire at least. You’re just thinking like tailgating in the back of like a CVS parking lot or something.

Lauren Buzzeo 32:22
Okay, okay, around a fire pit. Fine.

Christina Pickard 32:25

Lauren Buzzeo 32:27
Well, you know what, it’s not about the where. It’s just about the experience of sharing it.

Christina Pickard 32:31
Okay, okay, that’s our conversation. I don’t know about that. No, you know what I haven’t seen you in person in so long that we could be anywhere. We could be in a dumpster for all I care. It would be so nice to share a glass of anything with you at this point.

Lauren Buzzeo 32:45
I totally agree. But you know what, this is 2020 I think we’ve basically been living in a dumpster. But let’s end on a high note. So it’s New Year’s Eve. What do you have on deck to enjoy tonight?

Christina Pickard 32:57
Well so I already mentioned one. Ochota Barrels for sure. There is a real sadness in it, it’s not quite as finite as your Chenin in that I do have about four bottles and I just managed to get the 2020s, which was his last vintage that he made. So I’ll open that. And also, Pyramid Valley, we lost another great winemaker far too young, about six weeks after Teres Ochota, Mike Weersing of Pyramid Valley in New Zealand. So I’m going to open his last vintage that he made with Pyramid Valley. But then I’ve also got a bottle of Tasmanian bubbles. I can’t do Champagne when I cover Tasmania, which trust me when I say some of those top Tassie bubbles will rival top Champagne any day. They are beautiful, beautiful wines. So no open Tasmanian bubbles. What about you?

Lauren Buzzeo 33:48
Well, I just have to say I think I sense a theme for an upcoming tasting right there.

Christina Pickard 33:55
Champagne versus Tasmania.

Lauren Buzzeo 33:56
The smack down. For me, I have a couple bottles of wine. Of course South Africa—here we are talking about drinking out of your comfort zone and you’re like, Australia! And I’m like, South Africa! But I think that we both have obviously some connections to it. You know, the bottles I’m going to open are both from 2013, which is the year that I got married and basically started our family unit, you know, so I thought well, let’s celebrate with that. They’re probably ready to be consumed, they’re at a good drinking window. And you know, after this crazy, crazy year, let’s look back at something positive, and celebrate that and look forward to the year ahead. So yeah, I’m drinking a Chenin and a Pinotage from South Africa in 2013.

Christina Pickard 34:48
And you know what, it has been one year, hasn’t it? So if you don’t want to drink outside of your comfort zone and you just want to like crack open something that just feels real good to you, that’s also okay.

Lauren Buzzeo 35:04
You are totally right. And what a perfect way to sum this up that yeah, this rule number one, always, always, always have fun. Wine is fun, drinking it should be pleasurable, memorable, enjoyable, exciting, whatever that means to you. Don’t get caught up in labels and prices. Just, you know, enjoy yourself and enjoy the experience. And you know, you can be proactive to try to be the best wine lover you can be and the most mindful consumer you can be in the year ahead. But again, whatever joy wine brings to you, embrace it. And we wish you—I wish everybody a very, very happy wine New Year in 2021. Here’s to better things ahead for everyone. Right?

Christina Pickard 35:55
Right. To a better, more hopeful 2021, for sure.

Lauren Buzzeo 36:01
Alright, Christina, thank you so much for sharing your experience and your knowledge and your resolutions and being open. As always, I really appreciate it and you. A very, very happy New Year to you and yours.

Christina Pickard 36:14
Thank you, Lauren, you too.

Lauren Buzzeo 36:18
I think it’s safe to say that there are a lot of things that many of us won’t miss about 2020. But as we look to the positive possibilities for 2021, don’t forget to consider your wine habits and how you can switch them up and make them even better and exciting for the year ahead. Your wine mind and your taste buds will thank you for it. Subscribe to the Wine Enthusiast Podcast on iTunes, Google Play or wherever you find podcasts. If you like today’s episode, we’d love to read your review and hear what you think. And hey, why not tell your wine loving friends to check us out too. You can also drop us a line at For more wine reviews, recipes, guides, deep dives and stories, visit Wine Enthusiast online at, and connect with us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @WineEnthusiast. We’d also love to hear about your wine resolutions for the New Year, so please tag us and tell away. The Wine Enthusiast Podcast is produced by Lauren Buzzeo and Jenny Groza. Until next episode, cheers.