Time to shake it up: New wines for these times
Here are some wines to try as alternatives from the above.All prices on Wine.com SPARKLERS • Ca’ del Bosco Franciacorta Cuvee Prestige Extra Brut NV $39.99 • Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara Vecchia Modena 2018 $15.99 AROMATIC WHITES • Leon Beyer Pinot Gris 2016 $26.99 • Hugel Classic Riesling 2017 $19.99 RED ALTERNATIVES • Paul Achs Zweigelt 2017 $19.99 • Descendientes de Jose Palacios Petalos 2018 $19.99 • Alta Mora Etna Rosso 2016 $29.99 • Jean-Marc Burgaud Morgon Cote du Py Javernieres 2017 $43.99
Many of us, especially those who have been largely in our homes for the past five months, are getting a little tired of this moment. It has become easy to fall into the same old habits, eating the same things and, worse, drinking the same wines.
Midsummer is here and it is time to take a break from that nightly glass of Provence Rosé before dinner or the California cab or chardonnay that accompanies your every-other-evening repast as you try to schedule your proteins for the week. I’ll leave the dining suggestions for someone else, but the simplest way to get a little zip into your day is to explore some new wines — or wine styles — that you may have been reluctant to experiment with before.
Rather than opening a wine list and going straight to the “California” section, turn the page to someplace that you may have always wanted to visit, say Australia or South America. If you are shopping in your regular wine store, turn right instead of left when you enter and see what the change of scenery may bring. And for those who are shopping online at sites like Wine.com, go to the wines you like and click “Items similar to…” or use the online chat with their staff for closely aligned replacement wines.
“Now is not the right time to have a 15-minute conversation (in a wine shop) about which wine to pick,” said Martin Wiedmann, a professor of food science at Cornell University, in a recent article in Wall Street Journal on navigating the food and wine scene during these times. And he is right. So the best way to make a change in your habits is to think about it in advance. Have a plan going in and work off of that.
Say you are trying to keep your spirits up with bubbles, and Champagne and prosecco have been your go-tos. Stay in Italy, but try sparklers from different regions. Look for a Franciacorta (made from chardonnay and pinot noir) in Lombardy to substitute for the French wine or try an affordable sparkling red Lambrusco (the name of the grape) from the Emilia Romagna region. Both will be different from what you have been drinking but similar enough to be familiar. And in both cases you’ll be able to sample products from different places that are interesting and intriguing.
If you have had enough of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay this summer but still want to drink white wines, go explore the Alsace region of northeastern France. There you will find perhaps the best interpretations of pinot gris (you know the grape as pinot grigio) and riesling wines on the planet. You may think of riesling as a sweet wine, but the best Alsatian reisling is dry, or sans sugar. These wines are rich, have great acidity, amazing minerality and aromas of peaches and other summer fruits. Try them with your seafood dishes and you may never go back to that Kiwi Ssvvy again.
People who love pinot noir …love pinot noir. And one of the great things about the grape is that it provides ample opportunity for diverse interpretations around the globe. From Burgundy to the Sta. Rita Hills of California to the Rio Negro region of Argentina, there are plenty of places that produce great pinot. But if you want to try a little something different, then consider trying wines made from some other lighter-style red grapes.
How about a zweigelt, the most planted Austrian red? Or a mencia from the coast of northern Spain? Perhaps a bottle of Etna Rosa made with the native nerello mascalese from Sicily? Or even a Beaujolais, made from gamay grapes in the region just south of Burgundy proper? All offer the fruits and/or the subtlety, depending upon the style, that that can be found in pinot noir but each brings a different dynamic, a unique sense of place to your drinking experience.
These are just three examples of grapes and wine styles that can be altered and adjusted slightly to meet the need for change that we may all be feeling while not ejecting us completely from our comfort zones. No matter what you drink, there are similar alternatives worth exploring. Just think about a world that is bigger than us.
And bigger than just this moment.
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