It’s always the usual suspects when shopping for wine. Lining that supermarket shelf or that liquor store is a firing squad of Cabernet Sauvignons, Shiraz, Sauvignon Blanc, and Moscatos, with very few others. What you see on the shelf, however, is only just the beginning.
What, then, are we missing out on? “Plenty,” says Chris Urbano, Chief Sommelier of Winery.ph which claims to be the country’s largest online wine marketplace (they have over a thousand bottles of wines available for purchase). There are hundreds of varieties of wine around the world, and thousands more winemakers producing them. Shopping on your usual spots might be limiting your options, but going through plenty of the stuff online doesn’t need to be a headache (or a wine hangover) either.
It pays to know your options and know that there are people you can seek out for a recommendation or two. Here’s what Urbano recommends you try next:
If you’ve never found yourself attracted to the bite of Sauvignon Blanc, then the delicate flavors of Pinot Grigio (also called Pinot Gris) may be more up your alley. Known for its citrus and apple notes and light intensity, it will often go well with grilled shrimp and French macarons.
Though many will look for French or Italian makes, Urbano recommends the Chrismont La Zona Pinot Grigio from the King Valley in Australia. “It’s very crisp and refreshing, and you’ll get plenty of pear and Granny apple notes,” he says. “I’d recommend serving this Pinot Grigio chilled, to serve with appetizers on a hot day.”
Yes, you can finally pair your steak with something other than a Cabernet Sauvignon. Tempranillo is Spain’s top grape, producing wines that are smokey, oakey, and interestingly, taste best when they’re aged.
“The best Tempranillos you’ll find are from Rioja, Spain,” explains Urbano. “These have the highest quality classification, and are actually protected by the government.” A good place to start would be the Ramon Bilbao Crianza Rioja, which is younger and fruit-forward, or the Ramon Bilbao Gran Reserva, which has been aged longer to build up more complex spiced fruit flavors.
Tempranillo is often blended with other wines like Shiraz (also known as Syrah) to give it a little more fruitiness. “One good example of this is the Torre Solar Tempranillo Syrah,” says Urbano, “which gives you these ripe blackberry and spice flavors and comes off really juicy and succulent.”
Say hello to the most important wine you’ve likely never tried. The name “Grenache” (or Garnacha) may not often appear on your average supermarket shelf, but you will find this grape blended into some of the most delicious and expensive wines in the world, including Châteauneuf du Pape and GSM blend wines, lending them an unmistakable candied fruit and cinnamon flavor.
“But that isn’t to say that Grenache is unattainable or just too expensive,” adds Urbano. “You definitely get value for money in a bottle of, say, The Peter Lehmann Art & Soul Shiraz Grenache blend. It’s well-rounded and has mellow tannins to go with its stewed plum flavors.”
Picking a bottle of wine you know you’ll like is easy when you know your grapes—but wine blends let winemakers’ creativity really shine. “These are essentially designed by the maker,” explains Urbano, “When it’s done right, blends bring out the best in all the grapes in the mix.”
The Raig De Raim White blend, for instance, combines the floral and herbal notes of Garnacha with the citrus flavors of Macabeo—making it an excellent choice to go with white fish and oysters.
A blend like Sa Natura Organic Red, on the other hand, combines Cariñena, Garnacha, and Syrah to create pepper and cranberry aromas on top of a medium body with notes of balsamic and oak. “This actually makes it a rare wine that could actually go with a light Adobo sauce, which is thought to be virtually unpairable,” adds Urbano. “If you aren’t quite ready for that, it would also pair well with Coq Au Vin and Pasta Amatriciana.”
Discovering hidden gems in the world of wine is easy when you know where to look. Winery.ph boasts over 1,000 different bottles of wine in its extensive collection and claims to have the best prices online. All of the wines featured in this story will be part of their Mid-Year Clearance Sale, going at discounts of up to 57% off. The sale runs from June 30 to July 3. For more information, visit www.winery.ph and follow the brand on Facebook and Instagram