When I first started working at winedirect.com.au, I thought I had a pretty broad knowledge of wine. I had bounced around working in bars and restaurants, enjoyed many great bottles with friends and family. But it took being introduced to new and amazing varietals and almost at a rate of one a week for the first half a year for me to realize just how diverse wine really is. The wine world does not begin and end with Shiraz.
As with most things, when I become fascinated, I do research. I found that there are over 10,000 different varieties of grape in existence that you can make wine from. Some have been around for longer than others, some have been grafted from two different parent vines to make a hybrid. The most famous of which, is Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc. I feel “Franc Blanc” would have been a funnier name to go with, but it wasn’t my choice.
The most interesting new wine varietal that I came across was a couple of years back when we first brought in the Hesketh Negroamaro. I had never heard of it before and was fascinated with it’s origin and why it isn’t more commonly known. From there I tried many other new varietals. Bonvedro, Susumaniello, Lagrein, Tannat, Tinta Cão, Savagnin, Saperavi and so on.
Grenache has also been a big winner in the attraction to alternate varietals and quickly became my favourite varietal. It was once the most widely planted grape in the country until the Shiraz boom around the 1960’s. It was mostly planted in the Riverland area of South Australia and largely used to make fortified wine although there were many vineyards planted in the McLaren Vale, Barossa Valley and Clare Valley. The GSM fascination in the late 90’s and early 2000’s saw those that kept their old vine Grenache rewarded. A berry fruit forward and often spicy lighter red that can be enjoyed on its own or paired well with meals.
So next time you are thinking about getting a mixed Shiraz selection or reaching for a Cabernet, seek out something new and wonderful. Have a Nero d’Avola with your pizza, have a Tempranillo with your pasta, have a Grenache with your steak. The doors are open and there are literally thousands of new wines to try!