I love the new year; it overflows with optimism. It’s when we dream of ways to reinvent or to improve ourselves.

We vow to get healthy, lose weight, exercise more, eat less, get organized and stop whatever bad habits we’ve managed to carry around the previous year.

I’ve never been one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I always look forward to a chance to engage in new opportunities.

Last year, my personal wine journey found me appreciating white wines of France and reds of Napa Valley.

Where will my wine journey lead this year? I plan to revisit some old favorites, pinot noir and rose’, as well as experiment with some new ones. I invite you to accompany me while I muse, anticipate and treasure some wine possibilities for the new year.

Definitely, I will drink more Washington state wine, especially reds. Washington wines have hidden in the shadow of California and Oregon long enough.

Many people have no idea how much wine Washington produces. Washington is second only to California for the amount of grapes grown, and it grows more than 30 different grape varieties in 13 different American Viticultural Areas. Now that’s a bunch of grapes!

A large part of Washington’s wine effort goes into producing Bordeaux-style blends from the state’s most widely planted red grapes, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and cabernet franc, with syrah quickly coming on strong.

Washington red wines are not as powerful and in-your-face as their California brethren, nor are they as lean and earthy as their counterparts from France. They tend toward graceful, delicate and balanced, making them wonderful food wines.

It’s not like I’ve never enjoyed Washington wine before. I’m well-acquainted with several highly regarded wine names from the state such as Charles Smith, L’Ecole, Dunham Cellars and Long Shadows.

This year, however, I plan to explore in more detail the valleys, hills, gorges and waterways of Washington’s wine regions from Yakima to Walla Walla, from Horse Heaven Hills and Red Mountain to the Columbia Gorge.

I remember a time when I drank more wine from Australia and South Africa. I don’t know what happened, but I plan to reconnect with wine from Down Under and over yonder again.

Both of these countries produce good wine, but it appears, at least locally anyway, that wine consumers are just not drinking it as often. I think Australian and South African wines are going to regain some popularity this year.

Shiraz, of course, is Australia’s signature red wine, but Australia also produces reds from grenache, cabernet, and merlot. Some whites to consider include viognierriesling and chardonnay. There are many options to experiment with. Don’t be turned off by the quirky animal labels; it’s the Aussie way of grabbing your attention.

South Africa is known for the unique grape and wine of the same name called pinotage, which is a cross between pinot noir and cinsault. Wine made from pinotage sometimes has an interesting campfire, smoky flavor unlike any other wine I’ve tried.

Chenin Blanc or steen, as it was once known in South Africa, is an under-appreciated white wine. South Africa has much to offer the curious wine lover.

Another grape I have overlooked in the past is Malbec. Malbec, the flagship red grape of Argentina is favored by many wine-lovers. You don’t have to stay in South America to enjoy Malbec. Wine lovers can find Malbec from France produced in the area known as Cahors southeast of Bordeaux.

Malbec is medium- to full-bodied, almost inky in color and jammy in flavor with ripe plums, black cherry, blackberry, and undertones of smoke, earth, leather, wild game, and white or black pepper. What a delicious flavor profile it has; I can’t wait to get started.

Malbec pairs well with grilled meats, game, and robust spicy dishes, perfect for cold weather. Best of all local wine shelves are filled with bottles of Malbec at consumer-friendly price points.

Lastly, I predict for 2014 that Prosecco is going to be the new Moscato. I hope to celebrate life’s daily treasures with a glass of Prosecco more often this year. It’s inexpensive, light, fun, and not at all pretentious; plus it mixes well with orange juice for an everyday version of the classic Mimosa. Prosecco, it’s what’s for breakfast!

The new year brings endless occasions for change along with numerous opportunities for discovery. In 2014, I plan to continue my old wine traditions, and forge ahead with new ones.

Wherever your wine journey leads, I predict there will be AWA — “affordable wine action” — in the new year for all. Resolve to go beyond the bronze and go for the gold.

Kathy Smith, a certified executive sommelier, is co-owner Smith's Liquor Gallery and the Independent Ale House in Rapid City.

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