Time to try something different

One of the greatest joys of appreciating wine is trying something new and different.

Maybe you love Chardonnay and really enjoy trying the big oak-flavored Chards of California and then comparing them to the lighter stainless steel-aged wines of France.

Or maybe you like the bigger red wines and like to compare the fruit-forward Syrahs versus the peppery finish of a big Zinfandel.

Here’s a challenge to be more adventurous. There are thousands of documented varieties of wine grapes. Most fine wines come from about 230 grape varietals. There are hundreds more pressed and aged into wines in all corners of the world.

So instead of trying the same wine from another country, how about trying a grape you’ve only heard of or, better yet, one you’ve never heard of at all?

Let’s start with some red wines. If quizzed on the mostly widely planted grape in the world many would probably guess Cabernet Sauvignon. But it’s believed that Grenache is the most planted varietal of all wine grapes. The heart of Grenache (or Garnacha in Spain) is the Spanish countryside along with western and southern France, though it is grown around the world.

Grenache is often used in blends and is the key grape in many of the fabulous French wines such as Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Those wines are usually more expensive juice, starting at around $40 a bottle and going up. But I’d suggest buying a bottle of Spanish Garnacha in order to try something different. There are many great Spanish Garnacha wines in the $12-$20 range.

Grenache will often have something of an herbal nose with raspberry and peppery notes. The wines can range from super smooth to big robust wines. It’s a very easy-to-drink wine you’ll enjoy by itself or with food.

How could you not like a wine when the grapes are known as “little sweet ones?” Dolcetto D’ Alba is an Italian grape and wine from the Piedmont region of Italy meant to be consumed when young. If you buy much red Italian wine the odds are you’re buying Sangiovese. The Dolcetto grape makes a wine which is dry with some acidity. You’ll taste the fruit and it will go down smooth. Try it with your next plate of pasta instead of Chianti.

You’ll have an easier time finding Grenache than you will the Dolcetto, but both are worthy of your palate. And both are usually quite affordable.

Other reds worth your effort which are relatively smooth, easy to drink and affordable: Malbecs and Bonarda from Argentina, Carmenere from Chile, and wonderfully affordable Tempranillo or Mencia from Spain.

Some of the best white wines you will ever drink come from wineries and grapes you’ve never heard of out of Italy and Spain. One of the easiest to find is Soave, a dry white wine from Italy’s Veneto region. Soave wines will sometimes include more than one but always includes the Garganega grape.

The wine will be crisp and at least slightly acidic but pair it with seafood and you have a great wine-food experience. The wine will have a bright and fruity nose and perhaps a touch of mineral to the taste.

Other whites to consider include: Gewürztraminer, an aromatic and spicy wine that is awesome on a summer evening. Gewurtz’s hybrid brother Traminette is grown and made into great wine by many Indiana wineries, great Pinot Gris from Oregon, and a great French or American Chenin Blanc are all good choices.

 

Howard W. Hewitt, Crawfordsville, Indiana, writes about wine every other week for more than 20 Midwestern newspapers. You can reach Howard at hewitthoward@gmail.com

Cass County

Dowagiac man dies in house fire

Berrien County

Blossomtime Festival to return

Cassopolis

PHOTO STORY: Cassopolis organization hosts inaugural Walk of Hope

Cass County

Dave Young to host revival conference at Volinia Baptist Church

News

Paddle auction to be hosted at Niles church Sept. 30

Berrien County

Local league to register voters on National Voter Registration Day

Dowagiac

DAR to host rededication

News

Niles Housing Commission moves to make improvements, stabilize funding into the future

Dowagiac

Dowagiac police investigating Saturday night shooting

Cass County

Van Buren/Cass District Health Department confirms COVID-19 associated death of a student in Van Buren County

Cass County

Cassopolis man gets probation for drunk driving

Cass County

South Bend man resentenced in 1997 Union murder case

Dowagiac

Army veteran talks his experience in Afghanistan

Business

Local farm markets ready for fall season

Business

Mason’s Pumpkins preparing for second-annual Harvest Festival

Dowagiac

DUS, teachers continue contract talks

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Area History Museum fundraiser raises $40,000

Giving

Wolverine Pipeline, area organizations partner to lend veteran a helping hand

Business

Cassopolis woman opens vintage, antique store downtown

Brandywine Education

Tickets on sale for Brandywine Hall of Fame induction ceremony

Education

New tech students race marbles to raise money for essential workers

Berrien County

MGCF awards $121,182 in grants to Berrien, Cass counties

Berrien County

Berrien County reports lower COVID-19 cases in schools following mask mandate

Berrien County

Berrien County amends transportation funding requests