When it comes to drinking, most of us are creatures of habit. Just like James Bond has his shaken-not-stirred martinis and the Dude has his White Russians, when we find something that works we tend to stick with it. Which is fine, if you want to go through life drinking only one type of cocktail, one type of beer and one varietal of wine…but we prefer to mix it up once in awhile. To help spice up your palate, we’ve put together a list of ten unique varietals with recommendations all priced under $20. Interested in discovering more about wine? Sign up for our Toasts & Tastings event to sample a few of these and more. Happy tasting!
If you like Beaujolais…try Zweigelt
Originally called Rotburger (yeah, not exactly what we’d want to drink either), this Austrian medium-bodied wine has traces of cherry fruit that become finer with aging.
Try it with: Pork, light pastas, veal
Shecky’s Suggests: Birgit Braunstein Zweigelt, Austria ($15.99)
If you like Cabernet Sauvignon…try Tannat
Named after its most prominent feature, a high tannin content, this powerful rich red, popular in Uruguay, is also high in the antioxidants said to prevent aging—see, a glass of wine a day does keep the doctor away!
Try it with: Grilled red meat
Shecky’s Suggests: Juanico Tannat, Uruguay ($12.99)
If you like Chianti…try Mencia
This full-bodied, earthy grape hails from Bierzo near Galicia and stands out because of its great aging capabilities—a perfect collector’s item!
Try it with: Smoked meats, rabbit, garlic-flavored poultry
Shecky’s Suggests: Vega Montan Mencia Joven, Spain ($13.99)
If you like Merlot….try Cannonau Di Sardegna (a.k.a Grenache)
A Grenache by any other name would smell as sweet, as proved by the Cannonau grape grown on the Italian island of Sardegna, famous for its heavy berry bouquet and lively, spicy flavor.
Try it with: Tomato sauce, grilled meat, mushrooms
Shecky’s Suggests: Castiadas Cannonau Di Sardegna, Italy ($19.99)
If you like Shiraz…try Carmenere
Known as the lost grape of Bordeaux, this Chilean signature is like a BBQ in your mouth, with intense smoky flavor and hints of plum and spice.
Try it with: Sticky ribs, grilled mushrooms, dark chocolate
Shecky’s Suggests: Terra Andina Carmenere, Chile, ($9.99)*
* Try it out at Toasts & Tastings!
If you like Pinot Grigio…try Oak-Free Chardonnay
Yeah, yeah, yeah, we’ve all tried Chardonnays before, we’re all familiar with their buttery oak flavor and many of us can’t stand it. Well don’t write it off just yet—Chardonnays aged in steel bring out the natural flavor of the grape and are crisper and more refreshing than their more-popular counterparts.
Try it with: Scallops, chicken, lobster rolls
Shecky’s Suggests: Tablelands Chardonnay, New Zealand ($16.99)*
* Try it out at Toasts & Tastings!
If you like Reisling…try Gruner Veltliner
Hailing from Austria, this wine is high in acidity and pairs well with pretty much any meal, making it among the most versatile varietals out there.
Try it with: Just about anything
Shecky’s Suggests: Petra Unger Gruner Veltliner (Q), Austria ($13.99)
If you like Sauvignon Blanc…try Friulano
These wines have more names than Sean P. Diddy Combs (Sauvignon Vert, Sauvignonasse etc.), but no matter what you call them, you’re in for floral and fruity aromas and a light body, making for easy consumption.
Try it with: Pasta, seafood, spicy foods
Shecky’s Suggests: Ronco Di Pini Friulano Collio, Italy ($13.99)
If you like Viognet …try Muscadet
These wines from the French Loire Valley are dry and crisp, and have gained renown as the perfect accompaniment to oysters.
Try it with: Oysters, shellfish
Shecky’s Suggests: Trois Versants Muscadet, France ($10.99)
If you like Pinot Gris…try Albariño
Often considered Spain’s best white grape, Albariño just recently made the jump stateside bringing along its characteristic peachy aromas and unusually light body.
Try it with: Salads, richer fishes, rice
Shecky’s Suggests: Verdad Albariño, California ($19.99)
GIRL TALK TIME: What is your favorite wine? Would you ever try any new ones? Are you going to Toasts & Tastings?