I consider myself an avid wine drinker, but I recently found out there are more than 10,000 varieties of grapes, and about 1,500 of those are used to make commercial wines. I don’t know about you, but I could probably name about 50 before I exhausted my list (and I think that’s pretty good). Looks like I have some studying (read: drinking) to do. Ever heard of Grand Noir de la Calmette? Me either. How about Magaratch Ruby? Yeah, didn’t think so. And frankly, even if you had, you’d be hard pressed to find a lot of those varietals outside of certain geographic areas. But today, I’m going to introduce you to five varietals you may not have heard of and should check out immediately.
Piquepoul or Picpoul Blanc (peek-pool blahnk)
This is one of the oldest varietals in France and is primarily found in the Languedoc region, but is also grown in the United States, albeit sparingly. It’s a highly acidic grape, with delicious minerality. Literally translated into English, it means “lip stinger” because of it’s zippy composition and it goes incredibly well with fish and shellfish, specifically oysters.
If you love: Sauvignon Blanc or other bright and zesty white wines, pick this one up.
My pick: Domaine Delsol Picpoul de Pinet, $12.99
Hondarrabi Zuri (ohnda-rahbi zurr-ee)
Hondarrabi Zuri is a unique varietal grown in the Basque region of Spain (that’s the northern coast for you geography junkies). The wine is also sometimes known at Txakolina (pronounced chock-oh-leen-uh), but that’s actually the region and not the grape. This is an unusual grape with an insane amount of acidity. In fact, it’s so acidic that sometimes there’s a natural effervescence to the wine. The color is pale, yellow with green hues and fresh fruit aromas. It is dry and a peppered with minerals with twists of pear and citrus flavors, hints of herbs and a round fresh mouthfeel. Pair this Spanish gem with shellfish, oysters, fish, white meats, pickled vegetables and fresh cheeses.
In a white wine rut? Run to the liquor store and get this right now!
My pick: Ernio Txakolina, $13.99
Vermentino is a massively underrated varietal and one that I am shamelessly obsessed with right now. I’m a Sauvignon Blanc HOUND, and this has all my favorite things about SB, but with a little bit more nuance and finesse. It’s dry and crisp, but with bright stone fruit aromas like white peaches and refreshing citrus and orchard fruit flavors like grapefruit and pear. Sometimes it has a herby, floral twist to it with a smattering of honey. Plus, this wine complements everything from fresh, soft cheeses to grilled fish and seafood and a variety of lighter meat dishes.
If you love: A super lively Sauvignon Blanc, Albarino or Semillon, you will adore Vermentino.
My pick: Petraio Vermentino, $12.99
It’s kind of shocking that Dornfelder is the second most widely planted grape in all of Germany, but rarely makes an appearance on American wine lists. This wine varietal is a cross of two other German varietals and didn’t even make its way onto the wine scene until the late 1970’s. Dornfelder is a deep red color, medium-bodied with a very fruity and smooth taste of black fruit and hints of blackberry jam. The finish is sweet and refreshing. Make sure to serve this wine slightly chilled and serve it with light pastas or spicy cuisine.
If you love: Off-dry rieslings or pinot noirs, try this next time.
My pick: Sun Garden Dornfelder, $12.99
Nero d’Avola (nair-oh davo-la)
Nero d’Avola is well known in the wine world, but it’s finally coming into its own with everyday wine drinkers as well. It hails from Sicily, the mysterious little island off the toe of Italy’s boot. All anyone knows about Sicily is that the oldest Golden Girl, Sophia, is from there (and she makes killer pasta) and that Mafia’s got its start in Palermo (the capital). However, Sicily is so much more than pasta and murder. Nero d’Avola is the flagship grape of Sicily and VERY important to their culture. It’s an aromatic varietal with cherry and red berry flavors and hints of spice. Dry and medium-bodied with smooth tannins and gentle acidity, it pairs well with lots of Italian classics, but it’s especially yummy with grilled foods and mature cheeses.
If you love: A big, fat cabernet or a jammy syrah, this little-known gem is going to be right up your alley.
My pick: Oynos Nero d’Avola Merlot, $14.99
April 22nd 2021
March 4th 2020
February 26th 2020
February 19th 2020
January 22nd 2020
By Sarah Wassberg Johnson firstname.lastname@example.orgIt was 1998. I was in the basement of Elim Lutheran Church in Fargo, putting on a white robe and a…
By Greg Carlsongregcarlson1@gmail.comThe final film in Joachim Trier’s Oslo Trilogy, “The Worst Person in the World” is one of the best films of 2021. Despite several erroneous descriptions from critics tagging the movie as a…
By Alicia Underlee Nelsonalicia@hpr1.comCreative Moorhead is injecting new life into Moorhead’s art scene and revitalizing its downtown spaces. Artistic or handy people with a connection to the city are encouraged to connect with…
by Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comAdam Quesnell's last show at The Cellar beneath the Front Street Taproom in Fargo was in early September of 2018. He was embarking on a seminal move from Minneapolis to LA. As always, his comedy was…
By Kris Gruberperriex1@gmail.comSpring is here (mostly), and our area is buzzing with people eager to get back out and about -- many newly vaccinated and feeling a bit safer. Partnering with Jade Events, Fargo Brewing is just…
By Theresa L. Goodrichsubmit@hpr1.comIt was day ten of our epic southwest road trip and we’d made it to Arizona. After camping in Oklahoma, the Texas Panhandle, and New Mexico, we were exhausted, but fortunately our night in…