6 Types of Wine to Try
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to wine. You sit down at a restaurant or swing by the local wine shop and grab “the usual.” It’s fast and familiar, even if a little bit boring. Here are six of the most popular grape varietals, each paired with a wine that is similar and equally good, just a bit less common. If you try it and miss your old faithful, no problem. Pinot Grigio isn’t going anywhere.
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, try Grüner Veltliner.
Like Sauvignon Blanc, Grüner Veltliner, (typically from Austria), refreshes with similar tart citrus flavors and a light, herbaceous quality. It is incredibly food-friendly, thanks to high acidity and a peppery zip on the palate. Try it with fiery curry or as a revitalizing foil for fatty foods like fried chicken. We like the vivid, tangy lime and green apple notes in Lois Grüner Veltliner 2012, ($15, at liquor stores).
If you like Chardonnay, try Viognier.
Chardonnay drinkers who tire of its often oaky, buttery quality will be revived by flavors of peach, apricot, and exotic fruit in Viognier. Originally from the Rhone Valley in France, Viognier’s lush, creamy texture and full body will make Chardonnay drinkers feel at home. A floral, tropical quality compliments spicy fare like jerk chicken or wasabi topped sushi rolls. Yalumba Y Series Viognier 2013, ($12, at liquor stores) is a particularly crisp version and an ideal partner for rich dishes like lobster in butter sauce or coconut curry.
If you like Pinot Grigio, try Albariño.
Think of Albariño as Pinot Grigio’s fun, flirty sister. It is crisp and dry like Pinot Grigio, but with its smooth, round mouthfeel, Albariño is less delicate and therefore more versatile. While still light and thirst-quenching enough to be drunk poolside with chips and salsa in hot weather, Albariño has a bracing acidity and a long, luxurious finish that can go the distance with a variety of foods, like barbeque chicken and fish and chips. Seek out Condes de Albarei Albariño 2012, ($15, at liquor stores) for its mouthwatering lemon and ripe peach flavors.
If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, try Malbec.
Malbec is a savory, full-bodied wine that stands up to sizzling steaks and braised meats as well as Cabernet. Notes of mocha and anise add balance to the varietal’s intense flavors of plum and blackberry. Though Malbec is originally from France and is one of the five grapes (along with Cabernet) that are blended to make Bordeaux wine, today most Malbec comes from Argentina. With concentrated fruit and traces of vanilla, Catena Malbec 2011, ($24, at liquor stores) from Mendoza compliments rustic dishes like beef brisket and pasta with lamb ragu.
If you like Merlot, try Grenache.
Devotees of medium-bodied red wines who like the soft texture of Merlot will enjoy Grenache (or Garnacha, as it is called in Spain) for its strawberry and cherry flavors and the festive kick provided by its higher alcohol content, (usually about 15 percent). Spicy cinnamon and licorice notes enhance the varietal’s convivial character. Drink the intensely juicy Tres Picos Garnacha 2012, ($18, at liquor stores) with turkey burgers or pork fried rice.
If you like Pinot Noir, try Gamay Noir.
Those who enjoy fruity, lighter-bodied reds will find happiness with Gamay Noir, the grape that makes French Beaujolais wines. Youthful and fresh, with vibrant red berry flavors, the best French versions of these wines are classified as Beaujolais Crus. You can find them by looking for one of the following village names on the label: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, and Brouilly. In the United States, a fantastic option from Oregon is Chehalem Gamay Noir 2011, ($24, at liquor stores). With bright acidity, cherry accents and a clean finish, it works well with grilled pizzas, salmon salad and veal Milanese.