The thing I enjoy most about tasting wines is the element of surprise. There are an infinite number of aroma, flavor and texture combinations to experience. Taste one producer’s Chardonnay from ten vintages and you will experience ten unique wines compounded by the fact that, in any given vintage, you can taste ten Chardonnays from ten different regions and each will have its own unique qualities. This makes for many surprises, even with a grape as well-known as Chardonnay!
These minute differences in aromas and flavors are what make wine …well, wine.
What would life be like if there were only one Chardonnay, non-changing, the same wine every day! Very boring, I say. I am certain there are some people who have arrived at a particular wine or grape and simply stopped. Simply stopped trying other wines, other grapes, other styles. There are literally thousands of other grapes being cultivated out there, each being turned into wine which we may or may not ever get the opportunity to taste. Experiment! Try some of the lesser known grapes; try wines from lesser known areas. One thing is certain: many of these ‘off the beaten path’ wines can offer quality/price ratios that have been lost on more well-known wines. You simply have to have an open mind and palate.
There are literally hundreds of white wines which should be mentioned but here are a few which may be new to you and might warrant further investigation. Viognier, a full bodied wine with floral aromas of peach or apricot, mostly grown in the Rhone and Languedoc of France, and California. Torrontes, an up-and-coming white from Argentina, is refreshing with its bright acidity and aromatic quality. The Austrian Gruner Veltliner has also finally arrived.
If you agree that not every red wine has to be full-bodied and tannic, and that fruity-driven is not a bad thing, here are some easy drinking everyday wines which you might try. Malbec, best known as one of the five Bordeaux varietals (although it is rarely seen in Bordeaux) has found its home in Argentina’s Mendoza and has always been grown in southwest France for the wines of Cahors. A few others: Austria’s Zweigelt, Italy’s Lagrein from the Trentino-Alto Adige, and, for anyone looking for an off-dry red, the affordable Dornfelder.
There are many others, so put that Merlot down and give one a try. You might just be surprised!
–Shayne Hebert, Wine Supervisor, Central/Coastal Florida