Wines off the beaten path
I had a lot of fun yesterday at the wine seminar I taught at DC's Metro Cooking show. Space for 32 attendees turned out to be standing room only for upwards of 70. We discussed alternatives to more common varietals--and how to break out of a wine rut. In case you missed it (or if you were there and didn't get a handout--we ran out), here are the notes from my session:
Wine Tasting Off the Beaten Path
Do you find yourself reaching for the same few bottles when you visit your local wine store? You may be in a wine rut. Like the best cocktail parties, where a mix of loyal friends and new acquaintances keeps the conversation lively and interesting, stocking your rack with a variety of unfamiliar wines in addition to tried and true favorites will prevent bottle boredom from setting in. To keep your tongue sharp, veer off the beaten path by:
- Adding yourself to email lists for local wine shops, especially the ones you don't typically frequent. After all, it's difficult to expand your wine repertoire if you're not really sure what's out there.
- Sticking with the same grape, but from a different part of the world. Drink a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc? Try some Sancerre from France's Loire Valley. Have a preference for red Burgundy? Pick up a bottle of Pinot Noir from Oregon (or Romania!)
- Hosting a wine swap. This spin-off of the wine club lets you and your friends pawn off some of your reliable sips, while giving you the chance to discover a new favorite.
- Going for the obscure. When all else fails, browse the store shelves and pick a wine with a name you've never heard before. Agiorgitiko, Rkatsiteli and Chasselas may be good places to start.
If you like aromatic whites like Viognier or Gewürztraminer, try…
2009 Callia Alta Torrontés Salta, Argentina $10
Made from 100% Torrontés grapes, this wine is exotic, with heady aromas and flavors of rose and orange blossoms. Pair a bottle with aromatic Asian cuisine, as well as pork dishes, and fruit/cheese platters. Consume it young, while flavors are still fresh and vibrant.
If you like unoaked Chardonnay, Pinot Gris/Grigio or Pinot Blanc, try…
2008 Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina Campania, Italy $16
100% Falanghia grapes, stainless steel and no malolactic fermentation give this wine vibrant acidity and freshness. Aromas of apple, banana and pineapple give way to citrus and minerals on the palate. Try it with seafood, pasta, risotto and even sushi.
If you like Beaujolais, Barbera or some lighter-style Pinot Noirs, try…
2008 Austrian Cherry Niederösterreich, Austria $18
The wine is produced with 100% Zweigelt grapes, fermented in stainless steel with no oak treatment. The resulting wine has attractive, mouth-watering sour cherry, spice and soft tannins. Perfect with burgers, pizza, pasta and a variety of other dishes. Try chilling the wine slightly (20 minutes or so in the fridge) for optimal enjoyment.
If you like deep dark reds like Syrah, try…
2007 Kellerei-Cantina Andriana Rubeno Lagrein Alto Adige, Italy $18
Made from 100% Lagrein grapes, this violet purple-hued wine has an intense nose of berries and violets, followed by berry notes and a hint of spice on the palate, and well-integrated tannins. Perfect with well-seasoned, fuller dishes like rack of lamb, short ribs or Osso Buco.