If like many people, you are one who enjoys a single brand or varietal of wine, you are denying yourself the joys of what the wine world has to offer. Monogamy is great for relationships but there are too many great wines on the market to stay true to only one. Let one of your new year’s resolutions include trying a few new wines.
Of the approximately 175 commercially produced grape varieties used regularly for the production of wine, most wine drinkers have tasted fewer than 10 in their lifetime. Every wine drinker knows about chardonnay, cabernet, merlot, and pinot noir. Mention barbera, sangiovese, pinot gris, and viognier and a smaller group will nod with recognition. The others fall somewhere between albarino and zweigelt. Mentioning their names can make eyes glaze over faster than an hour of CSPAN 2.
Wine trends come and go. Two years ago following the movie, Sideways, pinot noir sales skyrocketed. Prior to that, consumers could not get enough merlot and heavily oaked chardonnay. The current darlings, riesling and syrah, offer many wine lovers something new even though these are two of the oldest varieties on the planet.
Riesling is a white grape used in most of the best German wine. It grows best in cool climates such as Germany’s Rheingau and California’s Anderson Valley. At its best it offers incredible aromas of peaches, flowers, honey and spice. Naturally high in acidity, it is a great accompaniment to food. Syrah is a black grape native to southern France but excellent examples can be found throughout the new world as well. Great syrah offers notes of blackberry, raspberry, smoke and pepper. Called shiraz in Australia it is that countries most widely planted varietal.
The best way to experience uncommon wine is to attend one of the many wine tasting events hosted by local wine shops. Most offer weekly tasting of several wines, changing their selection each week. Remember that the best wines are those that you like, not necessarily the most expensive or those with the highest point ratings from a wine magazine.
If you still are at a loss as to how to word your New Year’s resolution, you can borrow one of ours: “In the New Year, for better health, we plan to consume the recommended five different servings of fruits or vegetables every day, only two of which will be wine”.