Many wine consumers like to stick with their favorite types of wine and producers. We all know someone who “only drinks”, say Cabernet or Chardonnay. There is nothing wrong with either, but there is a vast world of wine out there that you should get to know.
Here are 5 uncommon grape varietals you should be drinking right now:
Albarino is one of those wines I go to when I know I am having seafood or other light fare. This varietal from Spain offers an aromatic, crisp, palate and is medium-bodied. It can have notes of tangerine, grapefruit and peach. This grape varietal has thick skins that hat help it withstand the damp climate in which is is grown. Albariño accounts for 90% of all plantings in the Rίas Baixas region of Spain which is said to be the birthplace of Albarino. This wine is also more on the acidic side, and is notably higher in alcohol than some other whites. Albarino’s are often compared to wines such as riesling and viognier. This is a a great wine to sip with light Tapas or as an aperitif.
Roussanne is from the fashionable Rhône Valley of France, and is known for having delicate floral notes, herbal qualities and high acid. The high acid makes it a great pairing with shellfish, most popularly paired with Bouillabaisse from the South of France. This wine is becoming increasingly popular in California Central Coast blends as well as in Washington, and Australia. In France, the tendency is to blend Roussanne with Marsanne in northern Rhone, making wines such as Hermitage, Crozes-Hermitage and Saint-Joseph. For the modern day drinker, Roussanne offers a different flavor profile than the popular chardonnay and sauvignon blancs that are more commonly consumed. I love Roussanne with light seafood such as a hamachi crudo, or scallops.
Barbera is a versatile red grape varietal that is cited to be from the Piedemonte region of Italy. Its main characteristic is high acidity, deep color and low tannins. It is a high yield fruit whose wine has notes of dark cherry, vanilla, plum and blackberry. Barbera is a sophisticated choice that will be popular with Cabernet drinkers or Pinot Noir drinkers. There are many of qualities in this wine that offer something for everyone. This wine is deep in color, but relatively light bodied, and considered to be is one of the most food friendly wines. I like to drink Barbera with Pizza on a casual night out in the middle of the week. It can also be enjoyed with red meat, roasts and hearty bolognese.
Malbec is a black grape varietal originally from France that has become very popular in Argentina. In Bordeaux, this varietal is know as one of the “Big 6” red grapes used in making Bordeaux wine. In Argentina, Malbec accounts for more acreage than anywhere else in the world. This grape produces a full bodied red wine that has higher levels of alcohol and tannins with plenty of acid. The unique flavor profile of this wine makes it a good match with red meat and dishes that have a little more spice. This can go nicely with sausages, chilli, and spiced rubbed meats such as BBQ. The the dark fruit flavors of this wine make it a crowd please that can compliment heartier fare.
Nero d’Avola is a red grape varietal from Sicily and is considered the most important indigenous grape varietal in Italy. The grape is also known as Calabrese, perhaps from Calabria on the mainland. The vines from this region are very old: some dating prephylloxera. These grapes are bush trained instead of trellised in keeping with the old school style of this region. This wine is a heavy, full bodied wine with high tannins and mid range acid, offering hints of cherry, raspberry and spice. It is also suitable for barrel aging. Nero d’Avola pairs well with rich Sicilian cuisine such as red meat, roasted veal and pork.