From where I stand, it feels like the universe of wine is expanding at breakneck speed. We started slowly enough. Wines made from the ‘noble’ varietals did us quite nicely for decades. Who could want for more than a shiraz or a chardonnay or a riesling? Well, it turns out, we did want for more.
A decade ago most wine lists were strangers to words such as tempranillo and nebbiolo yet today they are commonplace. Just as we were getting our heads around these strange sounding Spanish and Italian varietals, on came another wave of exotic names: verdicchio, arneis, viura, scheurebe, schönburger, barbera, assyrtiko, furmint…seriously I could simply go on and on and on. Anyone trying to keep up with developments in the wine world certainly has their hands (and mouths) full.
Faced with this onslaught of different grapes and flavours and wine styles something happens which strikes me as a little bit odd. You’ve seen it too I bet. It’s the person who always drinks the same thing, without exception.
It’s Shiraz guy. Or Rosé girl. Or any variation thereof.
On one level it’s understandable and, to a small extent, acceptable. Booze costs money. Sometimes a reasonable amount of money and, in the interest of value and confidence, it makes sense to choose something you know you’re going to enjoy. This is Barossa Valley Shiraz’s home ground advantage: people who are reluctant to take a risk on something new.
In truth, drinking the same wine time after time, despite the plethora of options available, is like clinging to a tatty old inflatable ring in a fast moving river of wine, as hundreds of other craft cruise by, some of them quite sexy looking.
At least you should try wines that have similarities to your ball and chain. If you are a Barossa Valley Shiraz drinker, maybe stretch to a bottle of Nero d’Avola or an Aglianico for your tannin hit. You might be surprised.
And for those of you attached to Pinot Grigio via an IV, maybe it’s time to change the bag for an Arneis from Piemonte or a Viura from Rioja.
Think about Austrian Blaufrankisch or Zweigelt if you prefer your reds lighter and more fragrant. And then there’s Chenin Blanc. I don’t care what you love to drink, have a fling with Miss Chenin. She’s all rich and tarty – the perfect combination in a mistress.
In short, you have options. Hundreds of them. It’s possibly prudent to remember, unlike human love, there is no stigma attached to being ploy-amorous with vino so maybe it’s time to step out and immerse yourself in the swinging wine world.