The Joy of Discovering Wine

The Joy of Discovering Wine

Direct Cellars members often tell me…

Direct Cellars members often tell me that one of the things they like best about the club (aside from generating extra income) is discovering new types of wine from new places. I couldn’t agree more, and I’ve said on many occasions that even I get surprised from time to time when I open a DC monthly shipment and find a wine that’s new to me.

There are over 200 wine grape varietals in the world, maybe more, and our goal is to taste them all sooner or later. But, like most things, wines go in and out of style. For a long time (and still today) Chardonnay is extremely popular. But once in a while, wine like Pinot Grigio gets a buzz, and restaurants’ by-the-glass sales of that particular wine start to go up. Nobody knows why this happens.

A while ago, Chardonnay got so popular that there was a consumer backlash. “A-B-C,” the wine lovers would cry out. “Anything But Chardonnay!”

Well, here’s some good news.

There is life beyond the same old Chardonnays and Cabernet Sauvignons we all know and love. In fact, the more adventurous you are in trying new varietals, the more great discoveries you’ll make. Direct Cellars will help.

Sure, it’s easy to stay in the comfort zone, wandering a bit off the path now and again to sample a Viognier or Cabernet Franc. But now it’s time to gear up and go a lot farther afield, seeking wines that come from those “other” grapes, and those “other” winegrowing regions in the world. Maybe they’ll show up in your shipment sometime. One never knows.

Let’s start with the whites. One of my favorites for light, breezy refreshment is Moschofilero (mos-ko-FEE-le-ro) a pleasant white from Greece. Most of it is grown in the Peloponnese, and even though it’s white, the skin is a very pleasing light pink color. Spicy, with a good backbone of acidity, this wine often gives off rose aromas and flavors of rose and violets.

Another obscure white that’s well worth trying is Arneis. Grown primarily in the Piedmont area of Italy, the word “Arneis” means “little rascal” in the local dialect, because it’s considered very difficult to grow. Try it if you like a crisp, floral wine with nice white fruit notes, such as pears and apricots.

On to the red wine!

Here, the world of little-known grapes is almost overwhelming. Some red grapes are used only for blending and are seldom bottled as a single varietal. Others are local, and never leave the small areas where they’re grown. In one case, the species of the grape itself was brought back from the brink of extinction by one dedicated and obsessed grower.

This last is Piculit Neri, a deep, rich Italian wine from a remote area of Friuli about 60 miles northeast of Venice. Its champion is a man named Emilio Bulfon, who has dedicated his skill to rediscovering and cultivating ancient vines that had all but disappeared. The rich, full, earthy satisfaction of Piculit Neri is not his only accomplishment. He also grows grapes that are obscure, like Forgiarin and Cjanarôs, if you could ever find them (or even pronounce them). The Piculit Neri is well worth searching out.

These are not, by any means, all of them. There’s Bourboulenc from the Gascony region of France, Ugni Blanc, Melon de Bourgogne, and the list goes on. So…crank up your adventurous spirit and be ready for some pleasant surprises when that box shows up at your door.

Jerry Greenfield is The Wine Whisperer, an experienced public speaker and wine educator.

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