Wine, everyone has an opinion and everyone has a favourite. As you should, however often when people try a wine that they like such as an Argentina Malbec or a Pinot Gris, that is what they will stick with eschewing other wines in favour of a favourite. I am guilty of this myself, always looking for the French wine on the menu. In fact if you ask anyone of my friends, they will tell you to buy me a French wine. This is a problem as there are several French wines, I don’t actually like (hint Loire valley reds). My reason for drinking French wine is not only do I like the complexity of many of the wines, I also understand the regions and grapes enough to know what I am likely to enjoy. However I can miss out on really good wines if I am not open to trying new ones. So I try, taste and travel in search of good no great wines, even those that are misunderstood. With that in mod, I present the 5 misunderstood wines.
1. Port and Sherry: Port and Sherry have very complicated reputations.Both are in fact a fortified wine. Last night, @benton8tor and I were at a dinner party and one of the couples had recently returned from Porto. Mat was explaining the amazing port tastings he had tried and a good 3/4 of the table were not impressed. “I don’t like port” was the general consensus
. Well I for one love port but that mainly due to port tastings where I was able to distinguish between tawny ports, white ports and ruby ports. Ports as @benton8tor points out are meant to be enjoyed with highly flavoured cheese, chocolates, or fruit or for a sipping after a rich meal. Ports are very different so try them and see if in fact there is a port you like. Sherrys much like Ports have a bit of a maligned reputation thanks to Harvey’s Bristol cream. Sherry can be light or dark and vary in sweetness from dry to quite sweet. Sherry like Port are meant to be sipped and pair especially well with cheese and various tapas. Some of the best producers of Sherry and Port include:
2. Merlot: Thanks to the movie Sideways, Merlot has suffered in reputation. Last winter on a trip to San Diego’s wine country, One of the wine makers told us that people are still reluctant to try it. Granted Merlot grown in a warm climate on clay soils and badly handled can indeed be sticky or syrupy. But in fact, Merlot depending on the region it is grown will vary in flavour. Merlots from Bordeaux can be some of the most highly acclaimed wines in the world, fully of complexity, balance, with noes of leather and tobacco. @benton8tor rightly describes Merlot from Bordeaux as a workhorse wine, suitable for sipping, enjoying with a meal or for cooking. Give Merlot a second chance and try them from various regions.
3. Roses: Again in California last winter the winemakers producing roses are still upset with Ernst and Julio Gallo for sullying the reputation of roses with their white Zinfandels. Those white zinfendals are cloyingly sweet and quite honestly somewhat unpalatable. They have unfortunately sullied the reputation of roses. Roses are made all around the world and most famously associated with Provence, France. Provencal Roses are usually made via direct press allowing for a very short contact period with the grape skins resulting is a light pink hue with floral finishes and dry mouth feel which produces an exquisite wine. As well Roses made via saignee are likely to be a little more robust in colour and flavour but most likely dry. On a hot summer day nothing beats a delightful rose.
4. Sweet wines: This includes late harvest or ice wines. Again these wines are meant to be paired with cheese or sipped after a meal. Late harvest wines are wines that have been left on the vine and concentrated in flavour. Many late harvest wines are infected with botrytis which ensures a honey flavour. Ice wines are grapes that have been frozen and very concentrated in flavour. Canada shines in ice wine production and countries like France, Argentina and Germany produce amazing late harvest wines. Bordeaux in particular is famous for its delicious late harvest Sauternes.
5. Lesser known wine regions: When traveling, I often check for wineries even in the most unexpected regions. For instance England and Slovakia produce some amazing sparkling wines, Missouri some amazing reds, and Lebanon some renowned wines in the French style. Even if you think, the country doesn’t produce wine, look into it, try it and you will be surprised. Bulgaria and Uruguay produce some of my favourite reds.
At the end of the day my advice is always to try and keep trying because you just never know.