The new year always comes with New Year resolutions. On Jan. 1, we will barrel into a new year with an opportunity to create new habits, drop old ones, and inevitably struggle to stick to our new marching orders.

I’ve never been a fan of resolutions because it seems we always set ourselves up for failure. I speak from about 30 years of personal experience on that particular topic. So, why don’t we set some fun goals that are easily achievable? Here are a few wine resolutions I’ve come up with that will expand your palate and maybe instill an adventurous wine spirit in you:

For every two wines you buy, make one of them a bottle you’ve never tried. I know this sounds almost scary. Venturing outside the box doesn’t mean grabbing a chardonnay when you only drink pinot noir. Try grabbing a Burgundy pinot noir to go along with that California pinot noir. They may be the same grape, but they are two completely different wines. On the other hand, if you fancy yourself a student of wine, you can be very “devil may care” about it. Visit with your favorite wine professional and see if there is a new varietal that has similar flavors and characteristics as your favorite.

Start a tasting group. Getting a group of people together with wine as the focus always leads to a good time. Whether it has a more educational or social focus, it provides a specific time to get together with friends and discuss, or just drink wine. Each visit can have a different regional or varietal focus on and since each person will bring a wine, you will not have to bare the financial burden alone. In a worst-case scenario, you’ll at least have scheduled time with people you may not have always been the best at making time for.

Go to wine tastings. Most tastings are not as fancy as people think they are. The format is very relaxed and they are geared to be educational. If it runs from 5-7 p.m., it is a come and go type of event that has been planned for people to arrive at anytime in between. Having hosted many, a wine tasting is specifically designed to introduce and explain new wines to people that have not tried them. Not knowing anything about wine is not an excuse to miss one but rather it is a reason to attend one. Tastings also provide one huge, shining benefit: you will not buy a bottle of wine that you are not going to like.

Revisit a varietal you have not liked in the past. I know it sounds strange to hear someone who constantly says, “Drink what you like” say, “Drink something you don’t like.” Understanding wine means re-tasting. Each year, every little detail that affects the way wine tastes changes. It’s never the same. From precipitation levels, to sun exposure, to varmints in the vineyard, it is never the same. Thusly, the wine changes. Just because you did not like the 2010, does not mean you will not like the new vintage.

If none of these ideas tickle your fancy, try my last resolution — always enjoy wine in fellowship with friends. It may sound corny but situations and company can make a good wine taste great. And if the wine is terrible, at least your friends will be there to remind you.

Judd Smith is a local wine enthusiast who also works as Wine Country’s beverage director. To read more from Smith, check out his blog at