Although there is a multitude of different wine grapes and styles in the world, many have characteristics in common. If you’re looking to try something new, but still want the comfort of familiarity, give these alternative wines a shot!
Cabernet Sauvignon – Aglianico
The celebrated wines made from the Cabernet Sauvignon grape are typically bold and tannic, with flavors of black fruit and high levels of acidity. The Aglianico grape grows especially well in southern Italy and shares many of the same qualities as Cabernet Sauvignon, including its potential to age for long periods of time. Pair Aglianico wines from the Campania region’s Taurasi DOCG or Basilicata’s Aglianico del Vulture with a tender steak for a meal that’s certain to leave you satisfied.
Sauvignon Blanc – Riesling
The aromatic Sauvignon Blanc grape can produce refreshing light- to- medium-bodied white wines with bright acidity and notes of citrus, white peach, grass, and minerality. Riesling is another white grape made in a wide range of styles with plenty of fruit flavors, acidity, and minerality. Excellent dry examples of Riesling come from many winegrowing areas such as France’s Alsace region, as well as throughout Germany, where it may be labeled as “Trocken.” These wines are superb companions to many types of food – from salads and fresh fish to roasted chicken or smoky sausages.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape – Priorat
Produced in France’s southern Rhône region, the revered red wines of Châteauneauf-du-Pape are usually blends based on the Grenache grape, known for their roundness and savory flavors of berries, herbs, and spice. Spain’s Priorat region is another home to the Grenache grape, sometimes called “Garnacha.” The red wines from here are also full-bodied, complex blends that utilize both traditional and international grape varieties. Grilled lamb is always a classic choice to go with these intensely flavored wines.
Chardonnay – Viognier
The popular Chardonnay grape is grown throughout the world and made into white wines of various styles – from crisp, clean, and mineral-inflected versions to rich, creamy, and oak-aged ones along with everything in between. The Viognier grape is championed in France’s northern Rhône region, where appellations like Condrieu produce perfumed white wines similar in texture to the full-bodied versions of Chardonnay, but often with intense aromas and flavors of stone fruits, lychee, flowers, and spice. Viognier is a treat to drink with buttery seafood dishes – especially shellfish.
Syrah – Tempranillo
The noble Syrah grape produces wines in two main styles: the elegantly structured, fragrant, and peppery red wines of growing regions with a moderate to warm climate and the powerful, leathery versions, often called “Shiraz,” from hot climate regions. Tempranillo grapes have found the greatest success throughout Spain, particularly in regions like Rioja and Ribera del Duero, where its wines come in a several styles – depending on the length of oak barrel aging. Typical aromas and flavors include red fruits, licorice, tobacco, and vanilla. Try Tempranillo at your next barbecue, especially with smoked dishes.