I think it’s safe to say there is a hell of a lot of wine out there. Even when you know what you are looking for a walk down the wine aisle can sometimes leave you wide-eyed wondering if there is really that much demand for all of it. Well, I am here to tell you that although some of it comes and goes, the majority of what you see at your local markets is there because it sells. And that is only the very teeny tiny tip of the wine iceberg because there is a whole other world found in wine shops, restaurants, wineries and back alley bars around the world that just doesn’t make it to the store shelf. These wines don’t get cut because they are bad, but more often because they are unknown outside of their growing areas or more likely, they are too hard to market to American consumers. These are a lot of the wines I am sipping on these days, mostly good and great, a few not so good or just not my favorite style. Here is a rundown of what I have had lately, one you will definitely know, the others might be new. Happy wine Wednesday!
First up is Amarone della Valpolicella from the Veneto region in Italy. Amarone della Valpolicalla is made from the Corvina grape which is grown in the hills just north of Verona in Valpolicella, which means the land of many cellars. It is without a doubt Verona’s most distinguished wine. This is an intense red wine made with grapes that have been dried before crushing which concentrates the sugars producing a completely dry wine with high alcohol, firm tannins and high acid. Think, well, dried fruit, like apricot and even notes of chocolate or cola. It is not a red I prefer to have with dinner, but if I did I would pair it with robust flavors that could stand up to the wine like roasted red meats and stews. It is a lovely flavor profile to pair with chocolate if you would prefer something other than a dessert wine.
Here is a snapshot of my girlfriend’s and my progression of wine preference from college until now: whatever was cheap/Charles Shaw, riesling, pinot grigio, rose, sauvignon blanc. So you can understand why when it comes to pinot grigio I feel like I’ve moved on. But honestly, I feel like my eyes have been opened to a whole new wine now that I know what to buy. Italy produces some lovely pinot grigio from the Northeastern part of the country. Look for Veneto or Trentino Alto-Adige. They are dry with high minerality and really wonderful to use in cooking. The best part is you can get a good bottle for nothing, like basically free…or at least $5. I liked this bottle from TJ’s.
Last but not least a warning. Trebbiano is described as dry, crisp and light, but I would also add that there really isn’t much going on besides that. No real flavor profile, no enchanting aromas. Just a glass of blah wine. Now, the number one rule when it comes to wine is to drink what you like, so if you like it drink it, I am certainly not an expert. But Trebbiano, although the most widely plated grape in all of Italy (tied with Sangiovese), is vastly used for blending. Winemakers add certain varietals, like Trebbiano, to some of their more popular varieties to help enhance the existing juice. Think of it like this, when you eat a tomato it’s delicious, but if you sprinkle some salt on top it can be out of this world…Trebbiano is like the salt in the wine. All of that is to say, it’s probably best to go a different direction.