6 wine grapes you may never have heard of that are worth getting to know
Most wine lovers have their go-to hero grapes, a glass of sauvignon blanc here, a glass of cabernet sauvignon there, or a sneaky little snifter of shiraz if we’re in the mood for something spicy and lush.
But what about branching out, going a little bit left-field, and picking a grape you might not have encountered before?
Of course, this it’s a risk if we find said grape not quite to our taste; or even worse, if we discover a wine that’s gorgeous and luxurious, but unaffordable.
So what’s an inquisitive wine lover to do? Get genned up on grape varieties that may not roll off the tongue, but could very soon be perking up your palate with their symphony of flavours.
After all, some grapes that were once fairly obscure such as albariño (the trendy Spanish grape with florals and citrusy nuances that pairs so well with seafood), are becoming much more mainstream.
Here are six worth familiarising yourself with…
Another vibrant, seafood loving white, falanghina hails from southern Italy’s Campania region and its zesty, minerally character, punctuated with peach and almond notes, makes it a natural bedfellow with scallops, prawns, grilled sardines or seafood linguine.
Hungary’s flagship grape is most widely used in the country’s famous Tokaji sweet wines, but it’s grown in other central and eastern European countries where it makes surprisingly good dry white wines. Its spicy flavours and lively acidity make it extremely versatile with food.
A grape variety that’s best known in Austria and Germany, it makes dry, firm, fruit forward whites with bright, peachy aromas with hints of orange blossom and a fine minerality. Elsewhere, silvana from Alsace (where the French spell it with a ‘y’) can be rich and juicy with an enticing herbal character.
We’ve grown to love the mighty malbec, and bonarda is Argentina’s second most important grape, waiting in the wings. Not to be confused with the Italian variety bonarda piemontese that’s grown in northern Italy, this fruity bomb has black cherry aromas, flavours of blueberry and plum, and a plush, smooth finish.
Now here’s a surprise, while you may not be familiar with the grape, you will most certainly have sniffed out the wines it makes… Beaujolais. In Europe, wines are named by appellation (region) rather than grape variety, which can be confusing, especially if you love a floral, fruity, light bodied red.
Sagrantino vines grow across Umbria in central Italy. This delicious grape variety is packed with dense black fruit laced with herbs, and produces Italy’s most tannic red wines. If you love a big bold red, try one of Umbria’s top drops, Sagrantino di Montefalco.
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