My new year’s resolution for 2016 is the same as for every year — to drink more wine.
Not more volume, I hasten to add. More variety.
The world has more than 10,000 grape varieties, experts say, with 1,300 used in commercial wine production.
So many wines, so little time.
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And to me, one of hedonism’s greatest pleasures is to find a new wine — even if it turns out I don’t particularly like it. I know how the Benedictine monk Dom Pérignon felt when he first tasted champagne and exclaimed, “I am drinking stars!” Even if that’s only a legend.
It’s not hard to find new grapes, new wines. The National Grape Registry at the University of California lists 1,021 wine grape varieties available in the United States, from the crisp, red A’asemi to the dark-skinned zweigeltrebe.
True, your local supermarket probably doesn’t carry them. But a bit of googling can probably locate a lot of them. And you can probably widen your palate a lot by trying wines that are easily available.
So let me suggest a few wines that might fit the bill, even if they aren’t especially rare. Try a few of them and let me know what you think.
▪ 2011 Pombal do Vesúvio red wine DOC Douro, Portugal (50 percent touriga franca, 40 percent touriga nacional, 10 percent tinta amarela): deep red hue, floral aromas, flavors of black plums and spice, hearty and rich; $24. A table wine made of the sturdy grapes usually used in fortified port wines, its grapes follow the ancient tradition of being crushed by being trodden with bare human feet.
▪ 2012 Shatter Grenache, Maury, France: dark hue, hint of oak, aromas and flavors of black raspberries, black cherries and vanilla, very smooth and concentrated; $20. Produced in France by Napa Valley winemakers Joel Gott and Dave Phinney. Grenache is the red grape in France’s famous Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Spain’s soaring Priorat region, where it is called garnacha.
▪ 2012 J. McClelland Charbono, Napa Valley: hearty and tannic and crisp with acids, with aromas and flavors of black plums, blueberries and Asian spices; $35. Born in eastern France, it now thrives in California’s Napa Valley and in Argentina, where it’s called bonarda.
▪ 2013 Argento Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina: dark red hue, floral aromas, flavors of red cherries and vanilla, long, smooth finish; $14. This wine is from the grape called charbono in France and California.
▪ 2012 La Valentina Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC, Italy: deep red hue, aromas and flavors of red raspberries and anise, soft, sweet tannins, smooth finish; $14. Grown in Abruzzo, on the Adriatic Sea across Italy’s Boot from Rome, named for the village where it’s made, no close relationship to the Tuscan wine Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
▪ 2012 Avignonesi Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG, Tuscany, Italy (sangiovese grapes): bright red hue, hint of oak, lively red cherry, red raspberry and earth flavors, long, smooth finish; $27. Bearing the most elegant name, called the wine of kings and popes, not to be confused with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo.
▪ Nonvintage Churchill’s White Port, Douro, Portugal (malvasia fina, códega, gouveio and rabigato grapes): golden hue, nutty aromas, full body, smooth, dry finish; $25. Sometimes misunderstood as the wine for drinking under expressways, white port today is a hip new aperitif beverage that 21-somethings in Portugal and California sip chilled, even over ice, with tonic and orange slices.
▪ 2013 “Buonora” white wine, Sicilia IGT (carricante grape): golden hue, fruity, with flavors of minerals and smoke; $20. Buonora picks up aromas and flavors from Sicily’s volcanic Mount Etna, the source of its grapes.
Fred Tasker: firstname.lastname@example.org