Explore lesser-known wines

Taylor Woollsey and Zach Lancaster’s wine adventure.

Your wine mission, should you choose to accept it, is to spread your wings and try something new, expand your horizons. If you follow this road map, the experience will be probably much to your liking.

Visit a dedicated wine purveyor. It can be a locally owned favorite. You know, the one with shelves full of treasures floor-to-ceiling and cases piled on the floor. It can also be a large wine retailer with neat rows of shelves and crisp and clear signage. It is highly unlikely that the local chain grocer or multi-department big-box store will be fertile hunting ground because they carry only the usual suspects.

Walk past the rows of Pinots, Chardonnays, Cabernets, Sauvignon Blancs, Shiraz, Malbecs, bubbles and blends — even past the usually smaller sections of Chianti, Rioja and Bordeaux — to deep, dark places marked by signs such as “Other Whites/Reds” from places such as Austria, Campania or the Finger Lakes. There you will find bottles with mysterious labels listing grapes, such as Grüner Veltliner or Aglianico or some with no more information than the nearest village, Banyuls.

There are myriad other great pours to be had by exploring the wine road less traveled.

Fear not. Your wine mission has never been safer and easier. Even without an expert advisor in tow, you need only be armed with a smart phone to discover that the bottle of Bandol you are considering contains wine primarily from the Mourvèdre grape and will be dark and stout and probably just right for the roast-beast feast you have planned for the evening.

The mysterious and the familiar.

Ponder white treasures such as Italian Soave, Verdicchio or Greco di Tufo; Grüner Veltliners from Austria; Müller Thurgau from southern Oregon or a dry Mendocino Gewürztraminer. Explore red wines, such as a Bonarda from Argentina, a Teroldego from the Alto Adige, a Carménère from Chile or even a Norton from Missouri.

Trust that with your local wine guru or the Internet as your guide, you will at the very least know if the object of your interest is light and lithe or dense and musky, sweet as pie or dry and dusky. Well, bad rhyming notwithstanding, you get the idea.

Here are some more suggestions: Complex and yummy white wines include Argentinian Torrontés, Hungarian Furmint, Spanish Albariños and Oregon Pinot Gris.

On the red side, try spicy Austrian Blaufränkisch or Zweigelt, Northern Italian Dolcetto or Schiava, big and bold GSMs from Paso Robles or Monastrell from Jumilla in Spain.

Consider this as a starting point. There are myriad other great pours to be had by exploring the wine road less traveled. Bon voyage.

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Lou Phillips
Lou is a Level 3 Sommelier based on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe, who loves traveling the wine world doing research for his writing. He also consults for collectors and businesses buying and selling fine wine and creating special events.