Donny’s Weekend Wine Picks
The world is awash in grape juice, and by that I mean wine. So if you are thinking it’s time to try something new, if you’re bored with that same glass of Sauvignon Blanc tasting of grapefruit and green apple or you keep saying “Cabernet, please” but you don’t always enjoy what’s poured into the glass, I offer here a quick cheat sheet on some other varietals you might find exciting. Be brave. Go outside your comfort zone. Try something different. Here are my picks for this fall, not in any particular order. You should be able to find good offerings in local stores at $15-$20 and a bit less if you’re lucky. (I used to say $10-$15, but the cost of production and transportation is pushing prices up a bit):
- Albarino: Crisp, fresh, aromatic and a bit minerally; once you’ve tasted this popular Spanish white, you will never order Sauvignon Blanc again. A number of years ago, Albarino’s were also a great buy at just over $10. Now that we’ve figured out what the Spanish have known for hundreds of years, expect to pay closer to $15 and up.
- California Chardonnay: I stopped drinking Chardonnay for ten years after a certain critic said he liked “buttery and oaky”. Personally, I didn’t understand why anyone would take lovely white grapes and soak them in burnt wood. But the trend has turned and California Chardonnay is wonderful again. Look for ones with no oak, or a hint of oak. Most bartenders and wine store professionals will know exactly what you’re talking about.
- Pinot Noir: France’s classic Red Burgundy is a light to medium-body red, fruit forward, with soft tannins. The Willamette Valley in Oregon has been producing some great Pinot’s, and I’ve had a few from the Sonoma region that were excellent. This is a great “drinking” wine with friends.
- Langhe Nebbiolo: If you can afford them, drink Barolo, one of the world’s great red wines. If you can’t, look for Nebbiolo “Langhe”. Nebbiolo grapes are the heart and soul of Barolo, but the price is within reach. Another finicky grape much like the Pinot Noir, this a medium red with a great aromatic nose and complex flavors on the palate.
- Malbec: I call this the new Zinfandel. California Zinfandel is a big, pushy red, full of flavor, fruit forward, and usually high in alcohol. Malbec, mostly from Argentina, offers that same deep flavor of pit fruits, dark chocolate and earth notes, but the alcohol content is usually closer to 13.5 than 14.5, a welcome difference. And with California wines priced at a premium, Malbec is a better value, too.