It’s National Wine Day: Try Something New!

Today is apparently National Drink Wine Day. Now, I generally treat just about every day as a good day to drink wine, and in fact I just finished up a wine tasting, but for those of you who need an Act of Congress to force your hand, here are a few wines to contemplate on your way home today.

Since it’s an American “holiday,” we’ll try to stick with domestic wines, but let’s take this opportunity to try something that you might not be familiar with: no Bordeaux blends or Chardonnays today.

Get Right With White: At this moment, at least, it’s sunny out. White wine is the perfect wine for sunshine, and you can’t call yourself a wine lover if you don’t appreciate some of the great white wines of the world. Today, why not try one of the grapes that first put Washington State on the map: Riesling. We make some dynamite Rieslings here, and contrary to what you might think, they’re largely dry wines. A well-made Riesling has a snoot-full of aromatics, pronounced minerality, and a rush of acidity that makes it incredibly versatile as a food pairing. Some of the best in the state are the Eroica from Chateau Ste. Michelle, the Poet’s Leap from Long Shadows, and the Kung Fu Girl from Charles Smith.

Grenache Gets It Done: Bold prediction time: in 10 years, the red wine from Washington that will get acclaim globally will be Grenache. This Southern Rhone varietal (well, ancestrally Spanish, but who’s keeping track) can show fruity characteristics, but is at its best when displaying exquisite savory notes of leather, green olive, and smoked meats. You might know it as the backbone of most Chateauneuf-du-Papes, but it has a small but growing following in the state. Some producers to seek out include Two Vintners, Syncline, and Betz.

The Sticky Situation: Dessert wines get a bum rap in the US. In Europe, they’re often some of the most prized and expensive wines you can find, but over here even many connoisseurs turn up their noses at wines with a bit of sweetness to them. Well, I think that’s silly: while an overly-sweet and syrupy wine can be horrible, there are plenty of amazing dessert wines which balance sweetness with razor-edged acidity and a cornucopia of flavors. Due to the general disinterest here in America, we’re going to turn our eyes to Europe for this category. For a nuttier, more savory option, consider an Oloroso sherry from Spain or Vin Santo from Italy. If you’re looking for liquid, honied gold, look for Sauternes from France, Trockenbeerenauslese (and yes, I spelled that correctly without looking it up) from Germany, or Tokaji from Hungary.

Today is a perfect opportunity to try something new. These are just some ideas, but most of all I encourage you to go to a wine shop and just ask for a recommendation. Why not go out on a limb, maybe you’ll find a new favorite. At long last, Congress could be good for something!

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