Time to try something new. Itís easy to stick with the same old wines and varieties, but wines change and so does ones palate.
Here are some varieties that have been increasing in popularity and you should be able to find locally.
Gruner Veltliner Ė known to its fans as GV or Groovy, this grape hails from Austria. Itís clean and fresh, less acidic than Sauvignon Blanc and really refreshing. Pale in the glass with just the hint of pale green. A lovely wine and, though itís most likely youíll find an Austrian example, the variety is now being grown in California, New Zealand and Australia. If youíve travelled with Viking River Tours in Europe then this is their house white.
Picpoul de Pinet Ė the grape variety is Picpoul Blanc but youíre most likely to find it labelled as Picpoul de Pinet which denotes the French appellation in the Languedoc which is where most of these wines currently come from, yet itís being grown now in the New World. This wine gained its cachet when top restaurants started listing it. Not only is a good food wine but itís inexpensive so faced with restaurant mark-ups diners plumped for it and liked what they tasted.
Vermentino Ė an old Italian variety becoming fashionable because of its attractive stone fruit and citrus aromatics, low tannins and refreshing acidity. Also known as Favorito in Italy, but it is as Vermentino youíll find it in California and several other US states including North Carolina and at Barboursville Estate in Virginia
Negrette Ė this one may need luck to find, but it's creating a buzz on the on-line wine forums. Thereís some Negrette grown in California where it used to be called Pinot St George, but most comes from the Fronton appellation in south-western France. The name means black and the variety is related to Malbec. If you like Malbec then hunt this one out. As its name implies, it produces a dark red wine which is both elegant and fragrant.
Tempranillo Ė not really an unusual grape because it is the main grape of Rioja. But there it is often over aged in oak casks. Established in the New World where cleaner fresher wines are made from it. Iíve had cracking good examples from California, Texas and British Columbia and Iím punting this as the next big varietal. Move over Merlot!
Zweigelt Ė sometimes labelled as Blauer Zweigelt. Itís a bright cherry red wine, quite light bodied but with good depth of flavour. Itís the most planted red variety in Austria where it was bred in the 1920s. Good with food, and the red house wine on Viking.
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Peter F May is the author of Marilyn Merlot and the Naked Grape: Odd Wines from Around the World which features more than 100 wine labels and the stories behind them, and PINOTAGE: Behind the Legends of South Africaís Own Wine which tells the story behind the Pinotage wine and grape.