From sea breeze-swept vineyards on the Central Coast of California, to wide open, barren earth in rural Australia, these wines will transport you to a different place and time – without you having to open your wallet (too much) or request PTO.
Our resident wine expert, Grace Joyal, breaks down what you should be drinking this month (and what you should be watching for as you’re sipping!).
Vouvray – France
The perfect complement to your Thai takeout obsession – just make sure to have the Netflix cued up before you dig in
This white wine, traditionally crafted in the Loire Valley in Central France, is made using the Chenin Blanc grape. The grape is prime for Sauvignon Blanc lovers, or, anyone who finds Riesling too sweet. The wine comes from the Vouvray appellation in the Touraine District. Wines range from dry to sweet and still to sparkling. Regardless of how you like it, Vouvray is appreciated for its delicate floral aromas and a bold, bright taste.
We tried: Vignobles Lacheteau, 2016: $8 at Trader Joe’s
Medium-full bodied and off dry with medium acidity. Aromas of pear and jasmine. Pear, citrus, almond, honey and minerality on the mouth. This wine becomes more complex on day two.
Pair with: Something ethnic and spicy. This was a beautiful companion to Thai chili garlic noodles and Tom Yum soup.
GEwUrztraminer – France, Germany, California
After a weekend of play, dress up your Sunday supper with a Middle Eastern meal and this sweet, but elegant pairing
The grape, traditionally grown in the Alsace region of France, and just to the north in Germany, is aromatic, meaning that even if it’s not technically sweet, it will smell like it. Usually, you’ll encounter citrus, tropical and stone fruit notes, with spice and smoke in more complex examples. Gewurztraminer also thrives in cooler regions of the New World. It’s not easy to find – worldwide, there are only 20,000 acres of the grape planted!
We tried: Fetzer Shaly Loam, 2016: $8 at Trader Joe’s
Golden in color, with peach, apricot and honeysuckle on the nose. Medium sweetness, full body, with lemon, pineapple, stone fruit and mango on the mouth. Low-medium acid. A bit of ginger-spice on the back of the palette, making for a sparkly little kick. I tasted smoke on the second day.
Pair it with: Lamb curry with tomatoes, garlic and garam masala – the crisp sweetness cuts splendidly through Indian or Middle Eastern cuisine.
Montepulciano d’Abruzzo – Central Italy
An easy-drinking red to warm your belly after a long training run – and give you an excuse to make la pizza
This juicy red wine is made from the Montepulciano grape in the Abruzzo region of east-central Italy. Usually medium in body, the lowest quality versions are berry-forward and pair well with basic Italian classics. Higher-quality examples have chocolate layered over black fruit notes. Montepulciano is the second most planted red grape in Italia to Sangiovese grapes.
We tried: Villa Cerrina, 2016: $6 at Trader Joe’s
Dry, medium body, ruby-colored wine featuring raspberry and blackberry, with herbal and tobacco notes laced in. Low-medium tannins and medium acid.
Pair it with: Think fat and tomatoes a.k.a. a piping hot bowl of linguini topped with bolognese (with beef AND pork). We can’t stress this combo enough – it’s simply divine!
Duoro – Portugal
Grab a friend – and this zesty red – and dance your Friday night away in your living room
The Duoro region in Portugal is most known for its Ports, but has come to be known for producing some pretty banging reds. The wine uses a blend of the grapes Touriga Nacional and Touriga Franca. Depending on the makeup (and quality), you’ll get plum, violet, spice and blueberry notes and high tannin. Regardless, because of the hot, dry climate of the region, the grapes are very concentrated.
We tried: Symington Family Estates, Tuella, 2014: $6 at Trader Joe’s
This wine smells and tastes of dark fruit and spices, with a touch of plum on the nose and vanilla on the palette. The chocolate comes out on day two. Dry, with medium acid, tannins and body.
Pair it with: A big bowl of chili with stilton or gouda grated on top. Otherwise, any other meaty stew or sauce works wonderfully. Douro will overwhelm delicately flavored dishes. For pairing with a cheese – try fresh goat’s cheese.
Red blend – Grenache + Syrah – Australia
Brooding and badass, this wine is rich and delicious – open a bottle after burning turns on the mountain
The two red grapes, Syrah, originally from Southern France, and Grenache (Garnacha), from Spain, were first wed in the famed Rhone region of France (ever heard of a Cote du Rhone?), but this month, we’re feeling takes on the blend from Australia. These grapes thrive in the southeastern part of the continent, where the air is hot and dry. The combination of Syrah’s showstopping spice with Grenache’s dependable warmth and grace and low acid makes for a wine that will win over your tastebuds.
We tried: The Banished, 19 Crimes’ grenache-syrah blend: $10 at major grocery stores
Aromas of vanilla, jam and baking spices. Add dark chocolate and dark fruits to the list, in taste, making for a velvety, full-bodied wine.
Pair it with: A hearty beef stew or other meat dish. Syrah’s tannins are well-suited to the fat and protein in the meat.