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The Zoe Report - January 2020

4 Unique Wines To Try If You’re Bored Of The Same-Old-Same-Old

The Zoe Report, featuring Vinovore's Pét Nat

You don't have to be a bonafide wine aficionado to appreciate drinking the stuff. There's no shame in liking the same $6 Trader Joe's bottle you turn to time and time again, whether it be a crisp rosé or robust red. You like what you like, and that's totally okay. That said, what if you don't know anything besides your reliable go-to? Thankfully, there are experts who can break down what you love about your favorites and make suggestions for unique wines to try next time you're in the market for something a bit more outside the box.

For this exact reason, you shouldn't fear approaching your local wine shop owner or chatting up the bartender next time you're dining out. You might not know what else is out there — but they do. And they just might help point you in the direction of a brand new fave. For example, Coly Den Haan, a certified sommelier and owner of women-winemaker focused shop Vinovore in Los Angeles, has developed a handy code that makes finding something you like feel fun and approachable. But if you don't have something like her shop near you, don't fret. Ahead, Den Haan broke down some of the most popular wines and what she'd recommend as the perfect change-up. Cheers to that.

If You Like Napa Cabernet, Try Touriga Nacional

You like the big, bold types of red with which Northern California's wine country has become synonymous. "While I try to steer people towards more restrained styles of reds — especially when pairing with food — sometimes it's just a beefy-tannic red that you crave," Den Haan explains. "In this case, try an indigenous grape varietal from Portugal, Touriga Nacional. [It's] a dark-skin grape that can produce big-bodied and bone-dry red with loads of character and aging potential." And don't let the fact that this wine is from Portugal fool you: It's a far cry from the sweet Port wines you're probably more familiar with.

If You Like Prosecco, Try Pet-Nat

There's a lot to love about Prosecco: It's light, it's fizzy, and it's usually less expensive than a bottle of Champagne. But if you're open to try a different style of bubbles, Den Haan recommends Petillant Naturel, or Pet-Nat, a naturally fermented Champagne-style sparkler. "If you really want to go there, Method Ancestral is an ancient way of making sparkling wine where a second fermentation happens in a sealed bottle allowing carbon dioxide to be naturally produced from the sugars in the grapes, hence the bubbles," she says. "The results can be varied depending on the maker and grape but they can be delightfully crunchy, crisp, and wildly dry with a bit of funk that all comes together in tasty glass (or bottle)."

If You Like Light Pink Rosé, Try Skin Contact

No shame in your love for pink wine, but if you don't mind swapping for a new hue — that's just as crisp and tasty as your favorite rosé — Den Haan suggests going orange instead. "What is called orange or skin contact wine can be a real punchy, juicy, and bright sipper poolside itself as well as being wonderful for pairing with food," she says. "Rosé is made from red grapes with a little grape skin contact to impart a small amount of color and orange wine is made from white grapes with extended skin contact creating anywhere from a peach to orange to amber color." And because orange wine is a "white wine" made in the style of a red, you can also expect a lot of nuanced flavor.

If You Like Sauvignon Blanc, Try Moschofilero

They're a little bit fruit, a little bit dry, and is that a little grassiness you detect? The classic Sauv Blancs are popular for good reason, but that doesn't mean you can't love another white just as much. "I can think of many interesting alternatives to this varietal but I’m choosing Moschofilero, a pink-skinned Greek grape that produces lively white wines with attractive aromatics such as exotic spice and refreshing citrus," says Den Haan. "There are some beautiful and natural expressions of this wine coming into the states right now so, with a little seeking, you can snag one!"

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