New Wine Varietals to Try Based on What You're Already Drinking
By Laura Fagan Published September 2022
It’s true that variety is the spice of life, especially when it comes to wine varietals. When you go to a restaurant and order wine, or buy a bottle from a store – do you tend to stick to cabernet, chardonnay, pinot noir or merlot? If so, no judgement. We get it, familiar is comfortable! And knowing and sticking to what you like isn’t a bad thing, but it’s time to branch out beyond the wines found on happy hour menus. There are thousands of fun and fantastic wine varietals that are worth trying.
We carry a diverse selection of wines beyond the noble grape varieties and can help get you out of your wine rut. In fact, sipping on a new wine from the same grape family could help you find a new favorite!
If you're ready to venture outside of your go-to varietals, our wine experts Paul Quaglini and Nathan Dale share some exciting swaps for pinot noir, shiraz, pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc.
Discovering New Wine Varietals
There are 36,000 different grape varieties growing on the planet. That means for each of your favorites, there are several other stylistically similar wines that you are likely to enjoy. We suggest shopping outside of the familiar and find that this is where you can come across some interesting, distinct and flavorful wines.
If You Like Pinot Noir, Try Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco
This red grape produces delicious, elegant wines. Pinot noir is a wine that is delicate and, when made well, expresses with a magical finesse.
If you’re looking for a pinot-like wine that has balance, fruit-forwardness and moderate tannins, Paul suggests a pick from Piedmont. Generally, wines made from this region’s native Nebbiolo grape (like barolo and barbaresco) are too tannic and serious to be comparable to a pinot noir. However, Paul shares that the Vietti Langhe Nebbiolo Perbacco is a must-try. It is made in a lighter, fruiter style which Paul feels will hit the mark for any pinot noir fan.
If You Like Shiraz, Try Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage
Shiraz, or syrah, is a well-known and widely enjoyed red wine. It is rich, full-bodied and delivers luscious fruit flavors. If you are a shiraz drinker and looking for something similar, Nathan recommends trying a pinotage. He explains that this under-the-radar wine is made from a hybrid grape in South Africa. Pinotage is a cross between pinot noir and the heat-resistant cinsaut grape. The successful hybridization resulted in a dark, powerful fruit that can grow in higher temperatures. The resulting wine is bold and has intriguing flavors of menthol, fig and roasted meat.
For a pinotage pick, Nathan encourages you to try one of his favorites - the Painted Wolf Guillermo Pinotage. He shares that the wine is food-friendly, tasty and just funky enough to impress your friends.
If You Like Pinot Grigio, Try Tenuta Cavalier Pepe Lila Falanghina Beneventano
Pinot grigio is a light, tart, clean and refreshingly crisp white wine. The varietal is widely produced and purchased around the world. For something different, but still similar to pinot grigio, Paul recommends trying a falanghina. This green-skinned grape grows mostly in the Campania region of southern Italy. Falanghina is a captivating wine with flavors of golden apple and tropical fruits, along with desirable minerality.
For a best in show, Paul’s pick is from the family-run Tenuta Cavalier Pepe winery. Lila Falanghina Beneventano is an aromatic wine with bright acidity and flavors of orchard fruits that will impress any grigio guy or gal.
If You Like Sauvignon Blanc, Try Txakoli Primo Zarautz
Don’t worry about trying to pronounce Nathan’s final recommendation. Just pour a glass of Txakoli Primo Zarautz (preferably oceanside with fresh seafood) and enjoy the experience.
This hidden gem mirrors the most desired qualities of sauvignon blanc, delivering light effervescence, zippy acidity and crisp citrus flavors. It is vinified from the hondarribia zuri grape, which is exclusively grown in the Basque region of Spain. Txakoli is a unique, value-priced find that any sauv blanc or dry riesling drinker would want to discover.
Ready to expand your horizon and your palate with some exciting new varietals? Stop by your local ABC store to treasure hunt or find your next favorite online.