Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir—you’ll find these well-known wine varieties gracing most menus. But when serving as hostess for your own get-together, offering up ‘more of the same’ wine selection just doesn’t inspire much excitement.
Veer off the beaten path of well-known wines and venture towards a lesser-known styles like Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine, made only of white grapes rather than Champagne’s traditional blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, or for a deep, rich red, try a Carmenere instead of a Cab Sauv.
Here are five wine varieties from around the world that will offer surprising, yet elegant flavours at your next soiree.
Cave Spring Blanc De Blancs Brut
Hailing from: Canada – VQA Niagara Escarpment -$29.95
Cave Spring’s Blanc de Blancs is an award-winning Ontario sparkling wine made entirely of Chardonnay grapes. It’s a brut-style wine, meaning that it’s bone dry in sweetness, with a delicate effervescence and mineral nuances.
This is a delicious wine to open in the evening, serving as an aperitif. You’ll experience aromas of lemon meringue, lively apple and bread dough. Up front, it is creamy on the mouth, shifting to a richly textured palette and a long, full finish with deliciously toasty notes.
Pairs well with: oysters or soft cheeses
Spier Vintage Selection Chenin Blanc 2015
Hailing from: Stellenbosch, South Africa – $17.95
Chenin Blanc is a lesser-known white grape traditionally from the Loire Valley of France, however South Africa is now the leading region producing this wine. Falling somewhere between Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc is a grape with a range of potential, ensuring that no bottle is quite the same. This bottle from Spier Vintage Selection of 2015 Chenin Blanc has a delicious buttery quality up front, shifting to a rich and complex finish. It also features hints of lemon meringue, bread dough, honey and pineapple.
Pairs well with: All kinds of seafood and pastas with creamy sauces
Pierre Sparr 2016 Reserve Gewurztraminer
Hailing from: Alsace, France – $18.45
Gewürztraminer is one of the world’s most distinctive and aromatic wines, known for its perfumed quality of florals and sweet-spicy flavours. Pierre Sparr’s 2016 Reserve Gewurtz has the typical intense nose including orange-grapefruit, lychee, ginger and rose petal. A medium-bodied white, the flavour has a touch of sweetness, and is creamy and smooth with a dash of bitterness at the finish.
Pairs well with: spicy Asian dishes with seafood, chicken and pork
Lealtanza Reserva 2011 Tempranillo
Hailing from: Rioja, Spain – $19.95
Lealtanza’s 2011 Reserva is an elegant and complex tempranillo with woody cedar and spice qualities, juicy and soft tannins and a long, fruity finish. It’s medium-bodied, with a deep aroma of ripe strawberries, coconut and dried herbs and a flavour with velvety tannins and without edges.
Pairs well with: All types of lamb dishes, paella and Moroccan tagine
Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenère 2012
Hailing from: Colchagua Valley, Chile – $17.95
Carmenere is a classic red wine from Chile, similar to a Cabernet Franc, with the herbaceous notes of Cabernet Sauvignon and the plumpness of a merlot. Its intense ruby-violet colour is stunning, as are its notes of plum, cherry and mulberry. The 2012 Carmen Gran Reserva Carmenere’s aroma has a slight edge of ripe red pepper, combined with a pleasantly smoky quality, which makes this wine idea for pairing with grilled vegetables and meats.
Pairs well with: Grilled eggplant, smoky bacon and Mexican food with chillies