Thursday, March 21, 2013

1,356 grapes you've probably never heard of.

While flipping through a recently purchased book titled, “Wine Grapes” by Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, & Jose Vouillamoz, my resolution to introduce consumers to new grapes and wine regions was strengthened. I would guess that the average American wine drinker is consuming wines made from one of ten, possibly twelve, grape varietals. This book covers 1,368 grape varietals produced on any sort of commercial level.

1,368 grape varietals.

It is staggering how many grapes are being used to make anything from common to extraordinary wines. To attempt drinking wine made from all of the grapes on this list would be an effort in pedantic check-listing. A fun bit of trivia maybe, but not necessary. That being said though, there is so much that the consumer misses by not branching out to available options.

The importance of tasting whatever one can, within reason, occurred to me while I was considering the role of wine professionals (writer’s, critics, judges, those in sales, etc.) and other people who rely on a subjective sensory input for their professional or personal betterment. Take the aspiring baker. If someone aspires to be a world class baker, but the only baked good they have tasted is Irish soda bread, to what extent would they be able to judge a well made croissant or a gateaux de bordeaux?

Of course they can tell you what they think is good or bad, but the reason professionals in their respective fields are professionals is due to (or at least should be) their wider range of flavor experience to draw from; I would consider the same argument applicable to the arts as well. But even if you are not one vying for a professional life judging beers or rating wines, drawing from a great range of experience and flavors makes each successive experience that much more enjoyable.

Because I do sell wine in one specific shop, I can’t say that impartiality, on my part, exists. What I will say though, is that if you can find a decent wine shop anywhere with a staff that is enthusiastic about seeking out new wines, you should be able to find a good deal on wines made from grapes you may never have heard of. But here’s a list of wines that I find to be of good values that are below $20, with the name of the grape in each underlined.

$12.99 - Ermita de Nieve Verdejo - Spain
$8.99 - Flavium Dona Blanca - Spain
$15.99 - Francois Cazin Cour Cheverny - Romorantin - France
$9.99 - Le Haut Vignot Anjou Blanc - Chenin Blanc - France
$12.99 - Strauss Samling 88 - Sheurebe - Austria
$15.99 - Cantina del Taburno - Falanghina - Italy

$15.99 - Dio Fili Xinomavro - Greece
$10.99 - Red on Black Agiorgitiko - Greece
$9.99 - Flavium Crianza - Mencia - Spain
$11.99 - Librandi Rosso - Gaglioppo - Italy
$15.99 - Monte Schiavo - Lacrima di Morro d’Alba - Italy
$15.99 - Santa Lucia Vigna del Melograno - Uva di Troia - Italy

Not to detract from them, but there is so much more than cabernet, merlot, pinot grigio, and chardonnay. (Like chenin blanc! - note from editor Beth)

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