Looking back at 1986 and the many events that took place in the world of wines, this is an appropriate time to extend my annual holiday wishes to the wonderful world of the grape.
To American wine lovers--A heightened interest in, and appreciation for, sound, simple, non-credentialed, inexpensive wine for daily consumption.
To the world's vintners--A consecutive string of fine vintages for price reduction aid.
To Italian wine producers--A new housecleaning brush that does not taint all with a dirty bill of health.
To wine snobs--Phylloxera.
To vineyardists--No phylloxera, plus more public recognition for the notion that fine wine is made more in the vineyard than in the winery.
To Pouilly Fuissee producers--A wine-soaked copy of Shakespeare's "Much Ado About Nothing."
To the Gallo Brothers--Domestic tranquillity.
To American restaurateurs--Fewer wines released before their time.
A Fresh Start
To Austrian wine producers--A fresh start.
To Marvin Shankeen, publisher of the Wine Spectator--Humility.
To the world's sommeliers--The practice of giving diners the same tender care lavished on an old claret bottle.
To holiday party goers--A sober driver.
To American wine competitions--Published, sensible, uniform tasting criteria.
To Beaujolais Nouveau producers--Less hoopla.
To Louis Martini vineyards--More hoopla.
To German wine makers--Appreciation for drier styled wines with the label designation of " Trocken ."
To Brooks Firestone--The realization that the Firestone name is as famous for wines as for tires.
To Heitz Cellars--A revision of Chardonnay style.
To World Series heroes--A basic champagne primer emphasizing that sparklers are for drinking and not shampooing.
To rowdy abusers of the grape at baseball and football games--Penalties for unsportsmanlike conduct.
To charity and industry wine tastings--Consumption monitors.
To the late Lee Stewart, founder of Souverain Winery--Thanks for the memories.
To Claret, Chateaux Grand Cru Classe proprietors--Price controls.
To the Napa Valley Wine Auction--More mature wine and less cabinetry.
To the Sonoma Wine Auction--More attendees.
To RMS, California, Alambic Brandy--A deserved second look and taste.
To Christopher Fores, purchaser of Chateau Lafite, 1787, for $156,000--A corkscrew.
To Jean-Jacques de Bethmann, proprietor of Bordeaux's Chateau Olivier--A bucketful of congratulations for improved wines and securing exclusive control of his winery.
To Baron Philippe de Rothschild--Robust longevity like his Chateau Mouton, 1945.
To Bill Bonetti, wine maker at Sonoma-Cutrer--Chardonnay emulation.
To Oregon Pinot Noir producers--A compass to send to California counterparts.
To Bill Jekel of Jekel Vineyards--A university course on French soil and viticulture.
To American architects--The tendency to build not from the ground up, but from the wine cellar upward.
To Domaine de La Romanee Conti--A wine sale.
Recognition at Hand
To New York's Finger Lake wineries--Patience; recognition for fine Chardonnays and vintage sparklers is at hand.
To Loire wines--Greater patience.
To the world's airlines--All executives charged with selecting in-flight wine be required to drink them.
To Callaway wines--More flavor.
To women wine makers--Equality.
To male wine makers--Less idolatry.
To Andre Tchelistcheff--An expanded trophy cabinet for incoming honors.
To Biondi-Santi of Brunello di Montalcino--A wine sale.
To major German restaurateurs--Less French wine.
To major French restaurateurs--More German wine.
To both--An American wine list page.
To America's wine coolers--A cooling off period.
To Messrs. Bartles and Jaymes--A mixed case of hearty Burgundy and pink Chablis.
To Estrella River Winery--Financial recovery; it is the final chapter that counts.
To Sylvia Sebastiani--A family reunion.
To John de Luca, California Wine Institute chief--Instant removal of worldwide tariffs and barriers.
To George Vierra Jr., formerly of Vichon Winery--A successful comeback.
To Brother Timothy--Long life.
To New York restaurants--More New York state wine.
To California restaurants--The same.
To Robert Mondavi--A French royal title of "Baron Bob" to match Baron Philippe.
To Stony Hill and Hanzell vineyards--Historical monument status.
To non-alcohol wine researchers--Damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!
To California Pinot Noir clones--An Oregon compass to find the right track.
To California Chardonnay--Less alcohol.
To California Cabernet Sauvignon--Less tannin.
To all three--More individualistic styling.
To bottle-fermented California Sparkling Wine--Less dosage sweetening and more bone dry styles.
To Francis Coppola--More wine from Niebaum Coppola Estates.
To HMR Vineyards--Less wine.
To Christian Moeiux of Dominus Vineyards--A public tasting.
To Tom Jordan of Jordan Winery--A case of Cabernet Sauvignon, Private Reserve, Beaulieu, 1968.
To Leigh Knowles, chief of Beaulieu Vineyards--A case of Cabernet Sauvignon, 1978, Jordan.
To Domaine Chandon--Some vintage dating.
To Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Winery--More maverick wine making.
To Peter Mondavi of Charles Krug Winery--More exposure.
To Zinfandel Blanc fans--Red Zinfandel.
To California vintners--Less award crowing.
To American Merlot--Softness.
To kosher wine producers--A universal accord on kosher wine-making rules.
To Concannon Winery--More Concannons.
To Bargetto Winery--More fruitless wines.
To Australian Vintners--More from down under.
To poorly made inexperienced Spanish sparklers--Fewer from anywhere.
To red and white Burgundy vintners--Pricing sanity.
To Spanish Sherry producers--Classic aperitif status.
To French Sauternes chateaux owners--Noble rot.
To all--Happy holidays and may your tables be blessed with the glories of the grape and the wisdom of tasteful moderation.