By JACQUELINE CORRIGAN
Over the holidays I was thinking about all of the different wines and spirits from around the globe I’ve had the good fortune to have tasted over the years. My world experience opened up in a way I never expected.
This journey of wines and spirits has me on a discovery unlike anything I’ve known.
I remember succinctly the moment I wanted to learn more about this world. I was on a break, travelling through Europe. Suddenly, I looked out the window on my train ride north to Trentino-Alto-Adige in Italy, what I had read about in books was staring back at me. It was the contradiction of being surrounded by snow capped mountains, the Dolomites, and looking back at the valley floor with grape vines trained on pergola trellises. The sunshine was glorious and suddenly I got it. My eureka moment!
There are so many different kinds of wines and spirits but often we get stuck in a rut. We’re afraid to try something new.
Have I got a New Year’s resolution for you! Let this be the year that you venture into uncharted territory. This is one resolution that doesn’t require Herculean effort. Explore the world from the comfort of your own home.
Instead of reaching for your standard go to wines, this year go off the beaten path. Stroll down the aisles of Greece, Portugal, Austria, Hungary or Germany for instance. Fear not the font is what I always say.
A major selling factor in buying a wine is whether or not you’re attracted to the label. It’s as basic as that. The fear factor with Greek wine and German wine is the font and script styling. They’re pretty intimidating for North Americans, therefore we’re less likely to try them. Once you know how to pronounce what seems unpronounceable….xinomavro (zeenomavro), a red grape variety from Greece, it’s not so scary to venture into. And you’ll be surprised to find some pretty nice wines at a very reasonable price!
I attended a Greek wine tasting a few years back for industry folks and was surprised to discover the quality level. We tasted four grape varieties.
Moschofilero and Assyrtiko for the whites, Agiorgitiko and Xinomavro for the reds.
We had four flights of five wines each. Three wines of each flight were the Greek varietals made by different producers, the fourth and fifth wines were
international varieties. We tasted the flights blind and in random order. The object was to show that Greek wines have flavour and style much akin to the
European wines, yet also distinct.
The whites ranged in profile similar to riesling, gewurtztraminer, pinot grigio, gruner vetliner and chablis. They had great minerality, citrus, spice and acidity. The reds were similar to Spanish Rioja, Southern France, Italy and Burgundy. They were lighter in body akin to a pinot noir and equally fuller to that of an Italian barolo.
Showcasing the wines in this way with international varieties in a blind tasting was very smart. It put the pre-conceived notions about Greek wines to bed.
Here’s to going off the beaten path and to the Spirit of Adventure!
Happy New Year!
Jacqueline Corrigan is a Certified Sommelier (graduate George Brown College Sommelier Program); a Member of the International Sommelier Guild; and a graduate WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust –