When most people start drinking wine, they go straight for the Chardonnay. That is, if they don’t hit up the White Zinfandel first — but that’s beside the point.
Either way, if they like whites, they are bound to over-order this green-skinned grape variety commonly served as a house wine. As in: white or red, Chardonnay or Merlot.
Why order Chardonnay so much? Well, it’s crisp, delicious, and available nearly everywhere. Besides, it’s a really safe drink to order when wine menus confuse and might as well be in Chinese.
However, any loyal wine drinker is bound to reach the point where they can’t drink another glass of the same old, same old… Chardonnay.
This common wine world quandary is often referred to as ABC: Anything But Chardonnay!
You might have ABC if:
You run kicking and screaming the other way and you might even decide to order… [quiet whisper] a beer.
So, if you think you might have the ABC blues, here are a few tips to get out of that rut:
- Visit your local wine shop and speak to a wine expert. Someone who knows their wines can typically help you find something you might like if you describe your tastes.
- Try other wines made from the Chardonnay grapes. A French Chablis is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and might taste a bit ‘flinty’ or remind you of green apples.
- Consider that you might be drinking commercial Chardonnay. There are plenty of boutique Chardonnays out there that can’t even be compared to those made by major wine producers.
Just the other day, the burst of flavor in a bottle of Ideology “Blondie Gone Wild” Chardonnay nearly blew my mind. There were only 225 cases produced in 2007 and I paid $32 for the bottle, but it was more than worth the investment.
If that Chardonnay isn’t cool enough to cure the ABC blues, I don’t know what will.
- Check out Chenin blanc wines, which is a grape variety from the Loire Valley in France. If you want something off-dry (every so slightly sweet), try a bottle of Vouvray.
- Sauvignon blanc wines are also versatile white wines that can be paired with anything from fish to cheese and even sushi.
- Hang out at your local wine bar when it’s not too busy and order a flight of wine. If you explain you’re interested in expanding your wine horizons, they are often eager to please!
- Try one of the 7 Wines of Alsace.
- If you’re feeling adventuresome and want a dare: I dare you to try a red wine. If you’re new to red wine drinking, I’d recommend checking out Chianti. This wine is on the lighter side and even a bit fruity. It’s from Italy, so should pair well with any Italian foods with a red sauce.
It is argued that the best red wines in France come from Bordeaux. But where can you find the best white wines in France?
Although there are plenty of regions that produce great white wines, most French wine connoisseurs will point the way to Alsace.
Located in the eastern part of France, Alsace has produced white wines since the end of the first millennium. Talk about experience!
The only interruption of wine making in Alsace happened because of the Thirty Years’ War in 1618 which devastated the region.
But the Wine Gods would not leave Alsace in such misery!
Fortunately for wine lovers, local winemakers revived the production of high quality wines at the end of World War I using exclusively Alsatian grapes. The results have been amazing!
Today you can find wines from Alsace all over the world. The tall and slim Alsatian flute bottle makes it easy to identify wines from this region in shops.
Now, before I explain each of the seven grape varieties, you should know that Alsatian wines are consumed young since they don’t require a lot of fermentation time in barrels to reveal their splendid character. Typically, the aging process goes from six months to five years.
Without further ado, here are descriptions of the seven grape varieties along with food pairing suggestions.
Sylvaner – This is a very refreshing, light bodied wine with a sweet delicate touch. It is great to enjoy with seafood and cold cuts.
Pinot Blanc – This is an all-purpose wine with a very smooth taste. This is one of the most representative wines in Alsace and you can’t go wrong pairing it with fish and other traditional seafood plates.
Riesling – This is the most celebrated of all the white wines in Alsace. It’s dry but refined and delicately fruity with an elegant bouquet. The excellence of this wine is unbeatable when pairing it with most seafood dishes and, of course, with choucroute, the traditional Alsatian dish.
Muscat D’ Alsace – Don’t think this is your typical sweet Muscat! This one is dry, but very aromatic and delightfully grapey. Its goes perfect with appetizers, vegetarian dishes, asparagus, and pastas.
Pinot Gris – This is a rich, full bodied wine with a lingering finish. It exhibits aromas that are slightly woody as well as smoky. If you are having foie gras or poultry dishes, look no further, this is the perfect wine.
Pinot Noir – In Alsace, the Pinot Noir grape not only produces an outstanding red wine, but also a fruity rosé with hints of cherries. It pairs great with game, red meat & barbecues, as well as with strong goat cheeses or gruyere.
Gewurztraminer – You can call this an all-terrain wine. Its character is full- bodied with exotic fruity aromas. Contrary to other Gewurztraminers, the Alsatian counterpart tends to be a bit on the dry side. It is a very flexible wine when it comes to pairings and goes well with appetizers, exotic international dishes, strong cheeses and desserts.
Alsace also produces a high quality sparkling wine similar to champagne. The Cremant D’ Alsace is a terrific option to celebrate those special moments in life. You can find it white and rosé. Try them both!