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ABC (Anything But Cab Sauv) is Easy as 1, 2, 3
Not to bash the noble grape, but you can expand your horizons and save some money!
Last week, I hope I persuaded you to try cabernet sauvignons from other regions beyond Napa. This week let’s talk about expanding beyond cab sauv into other grapes you may not be as familiar with!
I know it seems like I’m ragging on this, but it all goes back to when I first started actually tracking my wine collection, and I thought, “Gee, for someone whose favorite wine is not cab sauv, I sure have a lot of it about?” Then I realized they were almost all gifts. So folks would be coming to my house, they know I like wine, they go into a shop, get overwhelmed, and just grab something that sounds familiar. There are about 10,000 different grapes worldwide, and there’s lots of deliciousness to be had!
If you’re in a wine shop, and you want to try something in the same style as Napa cab, what should you ask for? Use terms like dark fruit, lots of smooth tannins, and plenty of oak. You’ll probably also want something fairly high in alcohol, at least 13% or 14%, but you’ll also want it to be well balanced.
(Ugh, apologies, as I was drafting this, my CellarTracker connection isn’t working, so I can’t pull out any particular bottles to recommend. I’m just going to go with more general grapes and regions. Hit me up in the comments if you have specific questions!)
I’ve sung the praises of malbec from Argentina before, and there’s tons of great value to be had. They typically have big blackberry fruit, and a good mix of tannins and acidity, for enjoying with meals.
Blends can offer great balance too. Try a GSM blend, which stands for Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. It hails from the Côtes du Rhône, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape is one of the most famous. But other regions have their own versions. You can find them in Walla Walla, Washington, or even in Australia, where the grapes are known as grenache, shiraz, and mataro.
Tannat is an almost black grape that originated in the Basque region. It’s often found in blends from Europe, but in South America, especially Uruguay, you can find it as a single varietal. It can be a bit much on its own, but it’s fun to try.
I hope this encourages to have a good look around your local shop and try something new. If you discover anything great, please let us know in the comments!