If You Like This, Drink That! Vol. 2
So you're interested in wine and want to learn more, but you don't want to risk purchasing wines you haven't heard of and possibly waste your hard-earned money on something you may not enjoy. Sure, many wines have great descriptions and ratings, but just because a critic liked it doesn't mean that you will. This post is here to help by providing a list of recognizable wines - each with an exciting and unique comparison. Browse through until you find a wine you know and enjoy, and you'll have a personalized recommendation for a new wine to try.
Champagne - Cava
One of the distinguishing characteristics of Champagne is its toasty, yeasty flavor which results from its method of production known as the "traditional" or "Champagne" method. Spain has its own sparkling wine called "Cava" that uses the same production techniques as Champagne but is normally sold at much lower prices. Made from a blend of grapes including Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and other local varieties, Cava makes for a great alternative to Champagne, especially for larger gatherings, due to its great value. Cava is labeled with the same terms as Champagne, such as "Brut," meaning dry, and "Extra Dry," confusingly referring to a slightly sweet style.
Sauvignon Blanc - South African Chenin Blanc
Sauvignon Blanc earns devotion from its admirers for its light, crisp, refreshing character and versatility for pairing with a variety of seafood and light fare. The origin of Sauvignon Blanc probably lies in the Loire Valley of France - home to many other delightful wines, including Chenin Blanc, a genetic sibling. Chenin Blanc features tart, mouthwatering flavors of orchard fruit and citrus without the "grassy" notes often attributed to Sauvignon Blanc. South Africa produces some of the best Chenin Blanc in the world offering value and delight to lovers of Sauvignon Blanc.
California Red Blend - Primitivo
Red blends from California have become increasingly popular in recent years. They are normally very soft and fruity with a full body and spicy notes. The exact blend is seldom noted but often contains grapes like Zinfandel and Petite Sirah. If you enjoy these luscious reds, you should explore wines from the southern portion of Italy which enjoys a similarly warm climate to California. One of the most iconic grapes in southern Italy, Primitivo is genetically identical to Zinfandel and boasts full-bodied, silky smooth, fruity, yet dry red wines with flavors of ripe plum, berry, and baking spice.
California Merlot - Super Tuscans
Coastal Tuscany has established itself as an internationally renowned home for the Merlot grape over the past few decades where it is usually blended with Cabernet and Sangiovese - among other varieties. "Super Tuscan" is an informal term used to designate more modern-style wines blended from international varieties. Merlot and Merlot blends from Tuscany tend to be drier than those from California but are still fruity and rich. They pair beautifully with Italian food, especially dishes featuring meat sauce or tomatoes.
Malbec from Argentina - Montepulciano d'Abruzzo
The Malbec grape originated in France but is now most famously found in Argentina. Lovers of Malbec appreciate its dark fruit character, great value, and full body. If you're interested in a similarly flavorful and powerful red wine that offers great quality for the price, you should consider Montepulciano d'Abruzzo ("mont-eh-pull-CHAH-no dah-BROOT-zoh") - a grape grown in the central Italian region of Abruzzo. It has a dark color and saturated flavor that will pair will with grilled meats or hearty stews.
For more wine comparisons: Check out the rest of our "If You Like This, Drink That!" series: