10 alternatives to your favourite wines to try now01/05/2021
Not feeling Dry January this year?
I don’t blame you. But if you’re bored of your same old bottle of plonk, why not branch out into something new?
From award-winning English Sparkling wine to smoky South African Pinotage, we have lots of options to expand your wine-tasting horizons this year.
If you like prosecco, try Italian Pignoletto
Pignoletto takes practice to pronounce but it’s a strong contender to snatch prosecco’s crown. Not dissimilar in flavour, most are ‘frizzante’, meaning the bubbles are softer than prosecco’s ‘spumante’ sparkles.
Made by the same method, where fermentation happens in a tank, there’s a similar flavour checklist of apple and citrus with ramped-up complexity and a longer finish.
Those that savour dryer styles should pop open a Pignoletto to see what all the fizz is about.
Buy it for £9.99 from Waitrose.
If you like champagne, try English Sparkling
Sparkling isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life. Champagne will always have its place, but now’s the time to try bubbles produced in our own back yards.
English sparkling is on the up and credit to Nyetimber for being a major part of that. I don’t have enough fingers, toes or time to count their awards, so snap up this crazy deal and judge for yourselves.
Buy it for £27.74 (offer ends today) from Ocado.
If you like Provence Rosé, try Côtes de Ventoux Rosé
Provence has cornered the market on sun-kissed, poolside sipping, not that we can contemplate that right now. Chilled, ballet-slipper pink juice sploshing around in the bottle, it’s heaven in an ice bucket.
Ventoux is a Southern Rhône region to keep our eyes on, brimming with vinous delights which have hitherto flown under the radar.
Aldi’s pink reminds us of breezier times, so I can think of worse tipples to help banish away those January blues.
Buy it for £4.99 from Aldi.
If you like Pinot Grigio, try Italian Orvieto
I think we can do better than Pinot Grigio, not that it’s a bad wine, but it’s not setting anyone’s pulses racing.
Orvieto is a sexier stand-in for lovers of the style — clean, crisp, dry, appley with a touch of nuttiness.
Made from the Trebbiano grape, there’s intriguing mineral depth to upper-end Orvieto, so maybe trade up to the Campogrande Classico for an extra £4.
Buy it for £6 from Co-op.
If you like Chablis, try Hungarian Dry Furmint
Saying ‘I don’t like chardonnay, but love Chablis’ just means we have expensive taste, as Chablis is top-notch chardonnay in its purest form.
If you don’t fancy spending big, Dry Furmint is a savvy option, made from the same grape as the tooth-disintegrating dessert wines of Tokaji, only dryer.
There’s also Muscadet sur Lie from the Loire, Italian Soave and Greek Assyrtiko.
Buy it for £10 from Sainsbury’s.
If you like New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, try English Bacchus
At last, we’ve got our own signature grape in Blighty and it’s a good one. Bacchus is a smart substitute for sauvignon blanc, with similarly intense pineapple, passionfruit and lime-zesty bang for our buck in this bottle.
Quality Bacchus doesn’t come cheap, but Chapel Down have made it accessible.
Buy it for £12 from Sainsbury’s.
If you like Burgundy pinot noir, try Italian Nerello Mascalese
‘Hauntingly ethereal’ pretty much sums up wines made from Nerello Mascalese grapes and pinot noir reds from Burgundy.
Nerello Mascalese vines are planted around the smoking, volcanic spectre of Mount Etna in Sicily, some are even stationed in ancient lava streams.
We’ve no idea what exactly volcanic soil does to grapes, but it seems to transmit a herbaceous, smoky salinity from vine-stem to glass-stemware, with a perfumed, pinot noir-like strawberry blossom etherealness.
Buy it for £6 from Morrisons.
If you like Argentinian Malbec, try Chilean Carmenère
Credit to Argentina for running with Malbec and turning it into one of life’s must-haves. Our love of Malbec’s spicy, black fruit flavours runs deep, though Carmenère isn’t a million miles away, next-door in Chile.
Once mistaken for Merlot, Carmenère is now Chile’s signature red grape that delivers ripe cherry and sandalwood flavours with a herbaceous pinch of green peppercorn to help us move on from Malbec.
Buy it for £8 from Ocado.
If you like Bordeaux Cabernet Sauvignon, try Portuguese Touriga Nacional
Bordeaux can do our heads in, whether it’s left-bank Cabernets or right-bank Merlot-blends and don’t get me started on the price, vintage or vineyard.
While we’re working all that out, I’d advise pouring ourselves a glass of Touriga Nacional, Portugal’s signature red grape that in some ways resembles Bordeaux Cabernet.
Touriga is usually found in port, blended with a raft of other Portuguese grapes, though here it’s found with Malbec for that flicker of familiarity.
Buy it for £9.99 (mix 6) from Majestic.
If you like Australian Shiraz, try South African Pinotage
Don’t get me wrong, I love Australian Shiraz, though some come across as liquidised liquorice sticks dipped in Crème de Cassis if I’m not in the mood.
With styles ranging from unapologetically bold, fruity, spicy, peppery juggernauts to lighter-weight and more fragrant, they have few obvious imitators.
That said, a well-made Pinotage such as this one has black fruit, pronounced smoky notes with a pop of eucalyptus that connect the dots over towards Aussie Shiraz.
Buy it for £8 from M&S.
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