Admit it. You know there is a whole wide world of wine out there, but you still cling to a handful of favorites. Right?! I know it’s comfy, but you can do better! It’s time get out of your Cab, Chardonnay, Pinot wine rut, and discover some new favorites! With that spirit of adventure in mind, here’s a list of rut-busting wines to try. I’ll profile the grape from which the wine is made, and offer a recommendation of a fine example of each. There’s something for everyone with six white wine, and six red wines!
This is probably the finest grape variety you’ve never heard of. It makes a full-bodied, sometimes rustic wine with amazing complexity, and honey, peach, and sweet spice flavors. If you like Chardonnay, give this wine a try. It’s fabulous with cracked crab and other shellfish. Look for JC Cellars Stagecoach Vineyard Marsanne.
I consider this grape to be a primary rival to Chardonnay. It produces a juicy, aromatic wine with exotic stone fruit , and spice flavors. If you like Gewürztraminer, give Viognier a try. I’ve enjoyed this wine with various Asian cuisines. Look for Yalumba Viognier Eden Valley.
This grape, which is native to Spain, produces a juicy fragrant wine that reminds me of a cross between Viognier, and Sauvignon Blanc. It has that Viognier’s peachy flavors, along with fresh citrus flavors found in Sauvignon Blanc. It’s great alternative to Sauvignon Blanc. Pair with seafood, Asian fare, or tapas! I like the Martin Codax Albariño Rias Baixas Burgens.
This grape is native to Greece, where it is the specialty of the volcanic island of Santorini. Its lively acidity makes it a food friendly wine with citrus, pineapple, and mineral flavors. It would make a great alternative to dry French or Italian wine such as Pinot Grigio. It’s a natural match for a Feta Salad. Look for Domaine Sigalas Assyrtiko.
This grape, which is Argentina’s only truly indigenous grape, produces a juicy fragrant wine with citrus pineapple and spice flavors. It is Argentina’s signature white variety. It’s a pretty food friendly wine that would be a great wine to bring along on a summer picnic. It pairs wonderfully with seafood, or try it with a pasta primavera or spicy Asian noodle, or curry dishes. Look for the Bodegas Colome Torrontés Estate.
This grape makes an increasingly popular juicy aromatic wine with citrus, stone fruit, and tropical fruit flavors. If you enjoy Sauvignon Blanc, and/or Pinot Grigio this one may change your mind! It pairs wonderfully with pesto, a specialty in Liguria, Italy. It would also be a good match with seafood, or Tuscan cuisine. I recommend the Tablas Creek Vermentino.
This grape, which is the signature red variety of South Africa, was created in 1925 at Stellenbosch University. It a cross between Pinot Noir and Cinsault, two French grapes, that thrive in South Africa. It shows the soft fruitiness of Pinot Noir, and the rustic characteristics of Cinsault. It produces a fruity, lively wine with soft tannins, and black fruit, spicy and many tasters report, banana flavors. While it’s home is South Africa it is also making inroads in New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Zimbabwe, California, North Carolina, and Virginia. This would make a nice change of pace if you enjoy Pinot Noir. Pair with game, ratatouille or hearty soups. Look for the Tukulu Pinotage.
8. Petite Sirah
This grape, which is also known as Durif, is considered an American Heritage grape. It produces a rich dense wine with blackberry flavors. If you like Zinfandel, give this wine a try. It’s a very good food wine. I’ve enjoyed with a wide variety of foods, but it great with steak, roasts, and grilled meats. Look for Ridge Petite Sirah Lytton Estate.
9. Mourvèdre (More-VEHD-ruh)
This grape originated in Spain where it is referred to as Mataro,or Monastrell. It makes rich dense red wines that are powerful, and tannic with earthy, savory black fruit and sweet spice flavors. It’s a good match for stews, roasts, and grilled meats. Look for the Quivira Mourvèdre.
This is a grape, which is native to France, but now a specialty of Uruguay that produces makes robust; yet elegant wines with high levels of tannins, great aging potential, and dark berry, plum, and spice flavors. If you’re a fan of Cabernet Sauvignon, give Tannat a try. Owing to its high acidity it’s a bit more versatile than Cab. It would pair nicely with grilled meats. Look for the newly released Tablas Creek Tannat.
11. Teroldego (tah-RAWL-de-go)
This grape is native to Italy, but is also grown in California where does well in the Sierra Foothills region. It produces a ripe smooth wine that is dark and savory with dark berry, plum, and spice flavors. Its high acidity makes it food friendly. Try this with roast duck, Indian Cuisine, or your favorite red wine cheese. Look for the Urban Legend Teroldego.
This grape, which is native to Italy makes the great full-bodied, intense, tannic wine with berry, cherries, plums and spice flavors. Its high acidity makes it food friendly. Pair with hearty meats, tomato-based pasta dishes like lasagna, or lamb. Look for the Seghesio Family Aglianico.
With over 10,000 grape varieties, this list is by no means complete. There are a host of other possibilities from around the world from countries, like Hungary, Austria, and Croatia to name a few! Not sure where to start? Cozy up to your local wine shop clerk, ask your wino friends (yours truly included), or do a little research online at sites like Snooth.com, or Wine Access.com. Your effort will not be in vain. You’ll be rewarded with new, and exciting wine that’ll get you out of your wine rut!