I’m pretty sure that I was put on this earth (terroir, as we’re on a wine theme) to slowly trickle bits of wine learning curves into people’s hearts and minds.
I’ve seen success. Two of my friends no longer ask for “a glass of white wine” when they’re out. One asks for veronica (because she can’t remember the name of the grape viognier) and another, in her lovely Northern accent, asks for sawv-in-yawn-blonk.
I’m happy they don’t automatically opt for pinot grigio. Not that there’s anything wrong with pinot grigio if it floats your boat (I say quickly, before you pinot grigio warriors pelt me with corks).
I’m just suggesting that you can flirt with white wine choices other than pinot grigio. Don’t be stuck in a white wine rut – here’s a handful of ideas.
Oh, before I begin, I’ll recommend a couple of pinot grigio wines. (I’m a woman, I’m allowed to dilly and dally away from my core theme.)
Pinot Grigio, Ponte del Diavolo (£8.95) The Grave Friuli district nestles in the north of Italy with the Austrian Alps to the north and Slovenia to the east. I’d love to be there now, sipping Ponte del Diavolo in its homeland. We’re not talking a flabby mass-produced pinot grigio here (that’s when I sulk). A nose-dip into this pale golden wine picks up aromas of pear, quince and a subtle hover of spring flowers. In the mouth it is clean, it is fresh, it is fruity, it is saying I’m pinot grigio and I’m proud.
Domaine Coudoulet Pinot Gris ( £10.95) This is one of those wines I can just keep dipping in my nose to breathe in the aromas and almost forget to sip it. There’s pear, squidgy ripe apples, quince and a sweet spice; I’m thinking cardamom, or maybe it’s a light dash of cinnamon. Then to taste, those aroma notes are reflected alongside a good refreshing acidity. I sipped this with a roast chicken, cooked with lemony butter tucked into its little breast and the wine said thank-you very much for showing me off so well.
Pazo Torrado Albariño, Rias Baixas (£10.95) The albariño grapes for this wine grow in the north of Spain, where the summers are long and hot but the grapes are cooled by the effects of the nearby Atlantic Ocean. They say you shouldn’t judge anything by its cover but the pretty sunshine-label on this wine says fruit, fruit, fruit, crisp and clean. It has a nose of peaches, lemons and limes, and to taste, a good refreshing kick of acidity is embraced by the sunshine fruits. You can almost sense the fresh ocean breezes and a whip of salty air.
Pieropan ‘La Rocca’ Soave Classico 2014 (£25) I’m giddy as I write because I’ve just come back from Soave which is nestled in the heartland of Veneto in the north east of Italy. My B&B sat right outside the ancient walls of Soave with the castle looking down majestically. The region’s soil is a mixture of volcanic basalt and white limestone and winemakers told me the dark soil is best for the white wines and the white soil is best for reds. The grape garganega is at the heart of Soave white wine and Pieropan is one of the top producers. My, how I love this wine which has had contact with oak and was aged in the bottle to deliver honeyed notes, some grilled pineapple, citrus and an elegant lightness of touch. An Italian cheeseboard is what I need. Oh, some of the local salami too if you have any.
Domaine de Vedilhan Serica Viognier 2015 (£9.25) Up to a couple of decades ago this native Rhone variety was pretty much unknown and almost disappeared but now plantings and its popularity has increased. This wine is from the south of France, the wonderful Languedoc region and the winemaker has fermented the grapes in a mix of new and old oak barrels which add a touch of vanilla and spice. It still sings its rich, luscious viognier song of stone fruit and tropical fruit; mandarin, lemon, orange and apricot are all joining in the chorus.
La Segreta Grillo, Planeta 2016 (£12.95) This wine hails from Sicily, noted for its reds; but grillo is a classic native white grape. La Segreta has a zesty nose of lemon and lime which flirt with tropical fruits. If you’re stuck in your pinot grigio or sauvignon blanc mode, try this delight as it offers the same clean refreshing brightness. I cooked a herby mushroom and pea risotto (there would have been chicken but I forgot to buy it) and I couldn’t have wished for a more perfect match.
Schloss Gobelsburg, Grüner Veltliner Löessterrassen (£11.95) Ah grüner veltliner. I’m hopeless at pronouncing this Austrian grape but I like sipping it and I think I’ll keep it that way. There’s touches of springtime flowers in this wine’s nose and I was pleasantly surprised to find them. There’s lemon too and a touch of grapefruit – only a touch mind. I thought this wine would be more austere and upright, but it is quite the opposite. It delivers a feminine touch. It can be sipped (very happily) on its own or pair it with a salad or light dishes; avoid creamy sauces or rich meat dishes.
I hope I’ve inspired you to think of some white wine alternatives to pinot grigio. Off you pop then; start to explore. Enjoy.
Jane Clare is a freelance wine columnist and journalist and a member of the Circle of Wine Writers. Find her @onefootinthegrapes on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.