The new year is all about starting fresh, and setting resolutions for things you want to accomplish over the next 12 months. We think the same should apply to your wine drinking habits. While its great to have your old standbys and your weeknight favorites, we think this is a great time to explore and get to experience some different types of wines. Live a little!
Here is what we think you should be drinking this year - maybe not every day but once a month. Here are 12 ideas to expand your wine palate and peak your interest and you may be surprised to end up some new favorites to add to your wine repertoire. It may take a little hunting since you probably won't find wines like this at every grocery store but it can be as simple as visiting your neighborhood wine shop and just asking for the wines we mention, we guarantee they can point you in the right direction.
1. Explore Gelber Muskateller
We love this unique Austrian wine for its fresh and zesty personality. It literally tastes like spring! A great one to enjoy in the spring or summer and fun to pair with spicy Thai!
2. Get Down with Mencia
If you are looking to step up your dry red wine game, Mencia is a good place to start. This varietal hails from Northwest Spain and can be fruity forward or more concentrated and rich depending on the area where it is grown and the age of the vines, much like Zinfandel.
3. Try Terldego
This isn't a grape you will see all over the shelves but definitely one that warrants some exploration! Indigenous to Northern Italy, It showcases bright juicy cherry notes, a distinctly earthy character and some sweet tobacco notes. It is reminiscent of syrah, showcasing peppery notes and a Pinot Noir in regards to its bright acidity.
4. Check out Zweigelt
Not quite as obscure as Terldego, Zweigelt has been gaining more popularity in the US but is old hat in Austria. A lot of us are feeling pretty fancy with our knowledge and love of Gruner Veltliner but that isn't all there is to Austrian wine. This is a grape varietal that was developed in the 1920's and it exhibits a freshness and fruit forward nature with some additional spice and umph.
5. Trick your Tastebuds with a Dry Brachetto
Typically wines made with Brachetto grapes are known for being sweet and slightly effervescent. So for non sweet wine lovers, Brachetto is typically a wine to avoid, but not in this instance! Only a few Italian wine estates actually produce a dry, still wine made from Brachetto. You still get the unique and beautiful candied red fruit aromas and flavors typical for the grape but it is bone dry. Lighter in body and soft tannins.
6. Sail to Santorini for the night with Assyrtiko
Perfect for those that love crisp, mineral driven whites. Sip on this wine from Greece and you will feel like you have been transported to its sun drenched shores.
7. Sippin on Suzumanelo
Its not difficult to explore new varietals in Italy. There are literally more than 350 different types of grapes in existence there. Suzumanelo is from the Southern portion of Italy where the climate is sunny and hot so the red wines tend to be big and more intense with fruit.
8. Bubbles for Days with Sparkling Vouvray
This isn't a super wine geeky or weird varietal but we love exploring lots of different styles of bubbles and the Chenin Blanc grape from the Loire region of France can produce a pretty fun style of sparkling. Persistent bubbles, fresh and fragrant apple and pear flavors and a creamy finish are what you get here and you won't be sorry for stepping outside the box.
9. All in with Alianico
Another one for bold red wine lovers to try - Alianico can be found growing in Southern Italy ( but originated in Ancient Greece). Big tannin balanced with big black fruit flavors this wine showcases a lot of depth and intensity.
10. Revive your Tastebuds with Ribolla Gialla
Looking for an alternative to Chardonnay? This white varietal also comes from the slightly cooler climate portion of Northern Italy and creates a richer style white wine with notes of orchard fruit, citrus and almond on the palate.
11. Pick Up a Bottle of Picpoul
This fun and zesty white wine is also super affordable. Look to the Languedoc region of France for this clean white wine that showcases stone fruit and minerality. Plus the bottles tend to be tall and slender and make a pretty centerpiece on your table once you are done with it.
12. Bring it on Home with a Bottle of Xarel-lo
One of the classic three varietals to make up Cava (Spain's sparkling wine), this one can also produce a still, dry white wine on its own. Good balance of fruit and natural acidity. And as a bonus you will look bad ass bringing this bottle to a party since no one will even know how to pronounce it.
Thats it folks! A few fun suggestions for you from us here at Meza Wine Shop. Make 2016 a year of exploration and break out of your wine rut; there is a whole world of wine out there to explore. Need help finding a weird new wine to try? Thats our job. Come see us at the shop.
Wishing you a happy and healthy New Year. Cheers!