Any wine expert will tell you that we rely far too much on the same kinds of wine.
We know what to expect from a Pinot Grigio, Merlot, or a Sauvignon Blanc, but what about Vermentino, Nebbiolo, or Côtes du Rhône?
We spoke with Jeremy Block, owner of Some Good Wine in New York, about alternatives to the most common reds and whites that everyone should order.
Keep reading to see the nine wines that should replace your old stand-bys below.
If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, try Spanish Garnacha (aka Grenache)
Cabernet Sauvignon is a robust red that is bursting with flavour. It’s a classic option that pairs especially well with meat dishes.
But if you’re looking to branch out from your classic Cabernet, Block recommends trying a wine with “that same calibre of density,” such as Spanish Garnacha, also known as Grenache.
These Spanish wines are medium-bodied and spicy, with “less blackberry, more chocolate; similar richness and intensity,” according to Block.
If you like Merlot, buy Nebbiolo
The classic Merlot is an easy wine to drink and is still one of the most popular varieties out there.
Block told us that the plum taste of Merlot is what draws many people to this wine. “And not just any plums, soft ones that are velvety and succulent,” Block said. “Italian Nebbiolo will have that similar velvetiness.
Nebbiolo is known as a rich wine with notes of tar, blackberry and roses. The Italian wine goes well with roasted meats as well as delicious, thick tomato sauces.
If you like Pinot Noir, drink Beaujolais
“Pinot Noir is the greatest wine in the world,” Block said, “but it’s also the most expensive.”
A good Pinot is delicate, fruity, and not at all harsh like Cabernet can be. If you want to try a similarly light red, turn to Beaujolais.
“Beaujolais has a similar light body with silky tannins, quenching red fruit, and perky acid,” Block told us. “It can also be found in the low $US20s most of the time.”
If you like Syrah/Shiraz, try Mourvedre
Shiraz and Syrah wines are spicy, earthy, and taste best with well-seasoned steak or wild game.
For an equally flavorful wine, Block recommends trying a French Mourvedre.
“Normally a blending grape but on it’s own, Mourvedre can have just as much meat and tannic structure as Syrah with more wild berries and herbs,” Block said.
If you like Malbec, buy Côtes du Rhône
The dark, fruity, and black pepper-y taste of Malbec makes it such a delicious dinner wine. But if you want to try something new, Block said to turn to Côtes du Rhône.
“Côtes du Rhône is a blend from southern France, that tends to be scattered parts Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre,” Block explained to us.
Block described these French wines as “medium- to full-bodied with succulent fruit and chewy tannins” and said it’s easy to find a good bottle for under $US20.
If you like Chardonnay, drink California Viognier
Chardonnary may be one of America’s favourite wines with a buttery, creamy texture, but this oaky wine isn’t the only full-bodied white to sip.
“While not quite as large and in charge, California Viognier packs on a pretty punch and will still let you live on the big side of life,” Block told us.
Expect a bright, dry white wine from Viognier. Block says it has “more flowers, less butter with a similar full body concentration.”
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try Albarino
“High acid. Zest. Citrus. Picnic in the park. This is what Sauvignon Blanc is all about,” Block said.
If you’re looking for that same light, citrusy taste, give the northeastern Spanish wine Albarino a try.
Block told us this wine is “a little more exotic with apricots and peaches, plus a tiny, tiny spritz that you won’t even notice.” Sounds delicious and refreshing.
If you like Riesling, buy Vouvray
For those who like Riesling, chances are you have a sweet tooth. To switch it up, Block said that Vouvray is a great alternative.
This usually German wine has “a little more body than your average Riesling,” according to Block. Though he did say there are a few differences.
“Vouvray floats in your mouth when Riesling pops,” he said. “Vouvray is more orange, nuts and marzipan. Riesling is all about the minerality, apricots and melon.” But it will be just as sweet.
If you like Pinot Grigio, drink Vermentino
Most sommeliers think we all drink way too much Pinot Grigio.
“Ask any wine professional what their favourite wine is not to sell you and it will 99% be Pinot Grigio,” Block said. “It’s popularity is a ‘travesty for the wine world.’
There are plenty of other great Italian white wines to try, such as Vermentino. It’s light, fresh, and similarly acidic with ctrus notes and a slight nuttiness that’s distinctly Italian.
If you like Gewürztraminer, try Muscat
“There is nothing quite like Gewürztraminer,” Block told us, with its “succulent smells of lychees, orange peel, and bunt sugar.”
This under-the-radar white wine comes from the Alsace region and is known for its ripe, rich scent. If you’re looking to branch out in your white wine drinking, give Muscat a taste.
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