Breaking old habits and choosing a different wine

WE are all creatures of habit especially when trying to reduce the time taken to do chores like the weekly shopping and thus end up with the same products in our cupboards. However, we can extend the range of wines we buy with a little lateral thinking.

We all know what we like and that’s our comfort zone, for example always buying Pinot Grigio. There are a myriad of other Italian wines that are very similar to Pinot Grigio such as the Carlotta Sicilian wines made from the Catarratto or Grillo grape varieties, Conchetta Gavi from the Cortese grape in Piemonte, traditional Verdicchio with a fruity mouthfilling taste, Soave from Garganega grapes, Vermentino and many others.

Experimenting further look outside Italy for light wines from France made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape, Pinot Gris, Viognier. Try the Domaine de Vedilhan Sauvignon or Viognier – great value at �7.99. Spain, too, has much to offer from grapes such as peachy Macabeo Borsao Seleccion, Garnacha Blanca, Viura in Rioja and Verdejo from Rueda such as Condesa Eylo not to mention Godello wines such as Val de Sil.

For those who enjoy a mouthfilling richly fruity Southern Hemisphere Chardonnay from Australia like the Barossa Valley such as the Yalumba Y Series Chardonnay or the a South African Chardonnay like the Rustenberg wines try a Viognier from the same part of the world. It will offer the same ripe fruit flavours with the added aromatic honeyed peachy aromas of the Viognier grape.

New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is a delicious stylish crisp tangy wine and to find an alternative for a change can be a challenge but some of the best I’ve found are the NZ wines made from Gruner Veltliner which has the same crisp note with a minerally spicy overtone – it ages well too. Gordon Russell at Esk Valley wines makes lovely crisp wines from Verdelho and Chenin Blanc too.

Lateral thinking for red wines is fun too offering opportunities for experimenting. Rioja is a classic red from Northern Spain primarily made using the Tempranillo grape that gives it the spicy fruit with a thread of acidity and balancing tannins.

Some producers such as Paternina make classic Tintos, Crianzas and Reservas etc but add into their range wines such as Clisos from old vines whose wines cannot withstand the amount of oak needed to classify the wine at Crianza or Reserva level. They thus age it for as much as the wines need to develop and integrate the nuances of flavour. Tempranillo is also successfully grown in pockets of Australia. Yalumba have successfully launched a wine called Running with Bulls (obliquely reminding us of the grapes’ origins?!) with its dark morello cherry and plummy notes with spice are reminiscent of Rioja.

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Back in the northern hemisphere look out for the Barbera grape which is on the wine shelves in many guises. There are examples of Italian wines from this grape such as Crocera Barbera at �7.55 that are lovely light easy drinking styles that offer an alternative to Nero d’Avola from Sicily or Beaujolais. Further along the scale the Barbera is a vibrant damson flavoured wine with smokey oaky notes and ages well including the Rive Barbera from Il Cascinone in Piemonte or Coriole in McLaren Vale Australia.

Experimenting is fun and informative and can help add a little spice to your wine buying and enjoyment. I’ve highlighted wines from some of the lesser known grape varieties but a little lateral thinking across all grape varieties, wine style will achieve the same thing. If you need help – don’t hesitate to ask...