Cocktail Hour

Going Beyond Your Favorite Wine

It’s easy and all too common to fall into the habit of visiting and revisiting the same shelf at the wine shop. You’ve found a few wines you like so going back feels like the safe bet. But where should you begin when it comes to trying something new? It’s time to turn down a different aisle or take a look at a different shelf and discover a few new wines that you’re going to love.

Know What You Like

Your favorite wine is your favorite for a reason. Say your go to wine is Sauvignon Blanc. It’s a crisp, clean and bright wine with a mouth-watering acidity that brings your palate alive and sends you back for another sip immediately. It goes great with a lot of different foods and it doesn’t have to be expensive to be delicious. You will typically see wine reviews that describe it with words such as pear, mineral, apple, grassy, citrus, and medium-bodied. Whether or not you agree with these assessments, or even understand why these descriptions are used, isn’t important but you should still pay attention. What really matters is that when you see a few of those same words describing different wines — bingo! — you will have found something new to try.

Find New Options

“Medium-bodied, peach, pear, and citrus nuances with a bracing acidity.” Sound familiar? This is a description of an Albariño, a grape typically found in the northwest region of Spain, known as Rias Biaxas (you’ll also find it in Vihno Verde, a region in Portugal). Like Sauvignon Blancs they are tremendously food friendly and typically priced under $20 a bottle. But, while they share a few characteristics they do not taste exactly the same as a Sauvignon Blanc (you’ll find tropical and floral flavors in Albariños). But, if you wanted wine that tastes just like Sauvignon Blanc you’d buy more Sauvignon Blanc. Instead, this is a great first step toward branching out and trying something new that tastes different but still suits your palate.

Another great option for the Sauvignon Blanc inclined is Pinot Gris, particularly from Oregon. It too is lip-smacking, juicy and tasty. While it’s known as Pinot Gris in Oregon (and France) it is the same grape as Pinot Grigio. The key difference between the wines you’ll find in Oregon versus those in Italy is that geography highlights distinctly different flavors: Italian Pinot Grigio is light-bodied, with subtle pear/melon, floral and citrus flavors. Oregon Pinot Gris is medium-bodied with vibrant flavors of pear, spice, and/or melon. The Oregon version is a bit fuller and offers a bit more bang on the palate, like those Sauvignon Blancs you’ve suddenly forgotten to miss.

Your Conundrum Solved

Venturing out and trying a new wine doesn’t have to be intimidating. You may find a new supplement for Sauvignon Blanc, and you will learn a little more about your palate. In fact, you may just surprise yourself and discover a whole new world of wine that’s at your fingertips – and in your glass!

– Alix Ford,


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