Are you tired of turning up at dinner parties only to be chided for your Chardonnay choice, or scoffed at for bringing a standard Sauvignon Blanc? Navigating the world of wines can be daunting so here is a brief guide of some more unusual offerings that will impress any discerning dinner party host, and won’t break the bank either. We’ve listed some great options you should be able to pick up at retailers like your local Tesco, so you won’t need to try and squeeze in a last minute trip to the boutique wine seller across town to look like you know a thing or two about wine.
As with anything else, the wine world follows certain trends. On trend at the moment, is Pinot Grigio, because it is a good all round wine that goes with a variety of dishes, and is inexpensive. However, this is a standard, and we’ll say it, a safe choice, unlikely to gain you any kudos. So if. you are looking for something really unusual in white, then Greek white wines make a good alternative from Pinot Grigio; pick up a dry Assyrtiko, or a flowery Moscofilero. Or try switching your Sauvignon Blanc to another French wine; Picpoul de Pinet. This white is starkly refreshing, and perfect with seafood. If you’re going for a curry or Asian style food then bring a bottle of Slovenian Sauvignon Furmint, very dry with definite citrus notes, this bottle is flavorful enough to take on more powerful dishes without being drowned out.
If the meal lends itself to red wine then you have a lot more interesting grapes to choose from. Piccini Memoro, contains a blend of grapes from all over Italy and will go well with any meaty or heavy pasta dishes, like lasagna, Ragu or spaghetti Bolognese. This rich and smooth red also goes really well with strong cheeses and it would make a good alternative to fortified wines and port. Or perhaps try a Novo Mundo Reserva from Portugal, a full and fruity tasting wine which pairs wonderfully well with a hearty roast. If you’re a fan of Shiraz, why not try switching it up for an Australian Mourvedre? This is a flavorful wine with blackcurrant and plum notes and a bite of white pepper, which will go well with any steak or game dishes.
Full bodied white or reds can feel quite heavy if you’re going to a lunch or an al fresco dinner so perhaps consider bringing a bottle of something sparkling or a Rosé. Much lighter choices, they will be easier to sip on warm days and not leave you or your friends feeling worse for wear by the end of it. While Prosecco is often the go to choice for an aperitif, try a Franciacorta from Milan, made using the ‘champagne method’ this wine is fermented twice giving it a more complex taste than Prosecco. Great with strong flavors like smoked salmon or goat’s cheese, it stands well on its own.
When picking a Rose, then offerings from the south of France are always crowd pleasers, very pale in color and close to dry whites in taste, they taste great with shellfish or light pasta dishes. But Rose from Chile, are usually fruity and crisp and are good options if you want to deviate from the norm.
So whatever the occasion, this brief guide will give you a starting point for picking some great, lesser-known wines which will intrigue any host, impress your friends, and give you a couple new favorites to reach for next time you’re shopping for a nice bottle.