Why default to a wine you like when, somewhere out there, is a wine you will truly love?
I was completely unaware it was happening until I reached for the bottle of my old faithful wine and it was not there. Sold out.
I felt uneasy. It was always there. I did not have to think about it. I knew what it would smell like and how it would taste. It was comfortable and easy—like a recipe I had made a hundred times and committed to memory.
Turns out I had allowed myself to fall into a wine rut, a stale relationship that I had not realized I committed to.
Now, that’s not to say there's anything wrong with having a “go-to” bottle of wine that you know you will like. But when that impedes you from finding a new wine that you’ll love, well, then we have a problem. As with food, there’s a whole delicious world to explore out there, and life is too short to settle for wines you just "like."
So, how to break out of that rut?
Start with what you like and what you know. Then, ever so slowly, veer just outside of your comfort zone. We like to think of it as "if you like this, you'll love that."
To help, I’ve put together a quick guide for 4 of the most popular default wines:
If you like Sauvignon Blanc, you will love Rueda
- Why: This white wine from Spain (made from the Verdejo grape) is crisp and refreshing, just like Sauvignon Blanc, and it's easy to pair with food.
- Flavor profile: Mouth-watering notes of lemon, lime, and minerality.
- Food pairing: Seafood paella
- Try: Marqués de Riscal Rueda
If you like Pinot Grigio, you will love Gavi
- Why: We like to think of Gavi as a Pinot Grigio that went to finishing school—this Italian white (made from the Cortese grape) is also light and bone-dry, but it has additional flavors to keep you interested from the first sip to the last.
- Flavor profile: Floral notes are complemented with hints of lemon, green apple, and minerality .
- Food pairing: Shrimp scampi
- Try: Villa Sparina Gavi di Gavi
If you like Malbec, you will love Nero d’Avola.
- Why: The big fruity flavors of Malbec, with the ever-so-subtle notes of spice, make it truly delicious.
- Flavor profile: Ripe, juicy notes of plums and red fruit, with a bit of spice to keep it rounded.
- Food pairing: Baby back ribs
- Try: Colosi Nero d'Avola
If you like Pinot Noir, you will love Beaujolais Cru.
- Why: It has everything you like about Pinot Noir without the hefty price tag, and not so secretly, it's what sommeliers pour for themselves.
- Flavor profile: Light and complex with bright red fruit notes.
- Food Pairing: Cedar Plank Salmon
- Try: Château de la Chaize Brouilly
Now the best part of breaking the habit is the possibility of discovering a new wine that you'll love. It doesn't mean you have to turn your back on old faithful, but you never know when that new discovery will become your next go-to. And that right there is the thrill of the hunt.
How do you stop yourself from defaulting to the go-to bottle? Share with us in the comments.