2024 wine resolutions
CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd and friends spill their 2024 must-drink list and resolutions
Editor's note: Long before Chris Shepherd became a James Beard Award-winning chef, he developed enough of a passion for wine to work at Brennan's of Houston as a sommelier. He maintains that interest to this day. In this week's column, he asks his wine-loving friends and colleagues to share their wine resolutions for 2024. Take it away, Chris.
Team! I hope 2024 is treating you well. After writing the last column about the wines that I loved last year, I started thinking about what I was looking forward to drinking this year — wines I want to have more in my life in 2024.
I also thought that you might like to know the resolutions from some of the smartest wine friends that I know. Let’s call it the 2024 Hot List. Here we go!
Ikimi Dubose-Woodson: Co-Founder and CEO of The Roots Fund, Southern Smoke Foundation Board Member
This year I’m focusing on wines from Oregon (Pinot) and wines from Loire Valley. I’m thinking of ways to connect with the new generation through affordable wines that taste good. Building my wines under $50 list, which I haven’t done in awhile.
Oregon happens to be thriving with new winemakers and more Burgundian's investing in projects. Loire Valley is just a gem that I’ve haven’t explored as much as I love French wine. Who doesn’t love Sancerre or bomb ass white wine? Both regions would be cool places to tell new wine drinkers about.
Molly Austad: Wine Director of Bludorn and Navy Blue
My answer is sake! When we opened Navy Blue, I gained a heightened appreciation for sake. I discovered a myriad of expressions I was formerly unaware of. Everything from Champagne method to barrel-aged sakes — and that doesn’t scratch the surface of what’s out there. Here’s to continued exploration of this exquisite Japanese libation!
Matt Pridgen: Southern Smoke Beverage Director
Mencía, because Mencía! I love the earth, wild berry, spice, herb, and mineral notes. Total package and almost always reasonably priced.
Brandon Kerne, Master Sommelier (MS): COO of Art of Cellaring/Texas Wine School
We sell a lot of Old World wines, and in particular Burgundies and Bordeauxs. This year though, I'm going to do my damndest to live more in the New World with this Old World soul. The once clear lines between Old World and New World styles continue to be blurred, and I have had more mind-bending experiences with Australian wines that taste like Burgundy and Côte-Rôtie this year than I want to admit to. I feel like I know very little about what's current and exciting in the Australian wine scene. I'm looking forward to exploring and expanding our selections of wines from down under.
June Rodil, MS: CEO of Goodnight Hospitality, Southern Smoke Foundation Vice President
You know mine, Savvy B! More Sauv Blanc. It wakes up your palate, has fresh acidity, and is unabashedly itself (which is something that I plan to be more of in 2024 and into my old age). Additionally, it's the best wine for airplanes, because your nose and aromas are more muted at that altitude so you really get a full flavor of something up in the air (which is more than I can say for flight food).
Robert Sinskey: Robert Sinskey Vineyards
Fabulously, finicky Franc! Cabernet Franc makes some of the best and worst wines in the world but when grown in the right spot, it is sublime.
Tony McClung: Wine consultant to the stars, international man of mystery, my friend and teacher of Italian wine
I’m a Lambrusco pusher. To this day, one of the most under appreciated wines for pure pleasure on the dinner table. Despite the explosion of bubbly consumption, the folks in the home of some of the best dining in Italy, Emilia-Romagna, have missed the marketing opportunity. From bone dry and rustic to low alcohol fruit bombs, something for everyone.
Antonio Gianola: Houston Wine Merchant
Sangiovese and White Bordeaux. Both are exceptional food wines and every time I open a bottle I am impressed with how they fit in at the table. From the simplest to the most profound, the quality across the range ($15-500+) is a showstopper.
Erin Smith: Co-Owner and Wine Director of Feges BBQ, Southern Smoke Foundation Board Member
I want to explore more wines from the Jura. And since my New Year's resolution is to travel more, I'd like to be drinking a glass of vin jaune in the Jura countryside sometime this year!
Jack Mason, MS: Director of Business Development for RNDC
I want to dig further into Chardonnay from Oregon — many are being made in a balanced style and more and more producers are exploring the category. Finding a lot of potential with the ones I have been able to try this far!
Felipe Riccio: Chef/Partner of Goodnight Hospitality
I wanna do deep dives into the regions we explore with the 2024 menus at March and with that, I want to make sure the cooks at March get to explore it too. It will help them understand the region and the food we are cooking more!
Julie Dalton, MS, CWE: Wine Director at Stella's Wine Bar at The Post Oak Hotel
For me, just more from Italy in general. Red, white, bubbly, dry, sweet. It's hard to pry me away from Austria and Germany, but when I do, it's almost always Italy and I want to explore more of the less traveled regions like Alto Piemonte, Liguria and Umbria.
Jasmine Hirsch: Winemaker and General Manager of Hirsch Vineyards
So, I have two responses.
The snarky one first: I want to drink more Grand Cru Red Burgundy this year. Anyone want to open bottles for me?
And the real one: I want to drink wines made by good people, grown with care for the soil and planet, that open my heart and mind.
Keith Goldston, MS: Landry’s, Inc.
Here is my number one wine resolution for 2024. More often, have a glass of wine with dinner at home. Not stressing about what is open or the pairing, just enjoying a glass with food. Sometimes it is hard to separate wine from work, but wine always shows better with food and having that glass with dinner is a great way to remind us of why we love it. Plus it will help me not drink too much of my second resolution.
Resolution No. 2 — Drink more wheated bourbons!
Terrence Gallivan: Chef/Owner of Elro
More Rhone. Because I love it and didn’t drink enough Rhone wine this year.
Steven McDonald, MS: Executive Wine Director, Pappas Bros Steakhouses
I'm trying to work my way through a wider range of crisp, unoaked European whites so I can stock the house with fresh, easy drinking, warm weather libations.
Paul Roberts, MS
Now that we live in Asheville, I am drinking more beer than ever and really enjoying the diversity. On a wine level, now that I am not around it on a daily basis I am having what I call my “Return to Classics” movement. Over the last few years that has been such a crazy explosion in wines of the world (many of which are delicious) I feel that we have lost sight of the OG regions. So give me more Chablis, Mosel Riesling, Piedmont (Barbera, Dolcetto), and definitely a deeper dive into the communes of Chianti.
Chris Shepherd, CultureMap Wine Guy, Eat Like a Local host, Southern Smoke Foundation Founding Director
What am I going to be drinking more of this year, you ask? I’m definitely going to explore more Chardonnay. Recent trips to Napa, Sonoma, and Santa Barbara led me down a road of these varietals that I had not really traveled in a long time. Yes, I drink a lot of Chablis and love that flavor profile — over the years we are seeing so much delicious Chardonnay that is being produced all over the world so let’s try more!
I also want to drink and learn more about Spanish red wines in general. They are delicious and quite frankly under represented on many wine lists. I will almost always head to the Pinot, Rhône, and Italian varietals and totally overlook Spain. That’s gotta stop!
So now that we have an idea of what some pretty good wine professionals are resolving to drink, what path are you going to go down? I bet it will be delicious and quite frankly really fun! Happy new year!
Which wines do you want to drink more often in 2024? Tell Chris Shepherd via email at email@example.com.
Chris Shepherd won a James Beard Award for Best Chef: Southwest in 2014. The Southern Smoke Foundation, a nonprofit he co-founded with his wife Lindsey Brown, has distributed more than $11 million to hospitality workers in crisis through its Emergency Relief Fund. Catch his TV show, Eat Like a Local, every Saturday at 10 am on KPRC Channel 2.