Do you remember the first bottle of wine you ever bought?
For most of us, our wine journey began in the aisles of the grocery store. Without much to go on, we scanned the vast selection of bottles, hoping to pick a winner. Whether we were drawn in by an alluring label, or decided to get Pinot because our best friend drinks Pinot, we somehow arrived at a decision. The following week, we went back for the same bottle. Over time, that bottle became our go-to wine.
It’s totally normal to pick a bottle on impulse, and it’s also totally normal to keep getting the same bottle again and again. Why? Similar to how you might stick to the same order at your favorite food joint, familiarity is enjoyable. You already know you love it, and it can feel risky to mix things up.
And yet…change can be exciting. There are so many kinds of wine out there. There’s bound to be something that you’ll love just as much (or even more) than your trusty go-to bottle. However, it can be super intimidating to pick a new wine. How will you know what you’ll enjoy?
Fear not, friends. We’re here for you as you make the leap into new wine territory. No matter which popular wine you’re currently obsessed with, take a peek at what to try next.
Brand Name Red Blends (think Apothic Red)
If you like red wine, odds are you’ve tried one of these. Bold red blends – most notably Apothic Red and Ménage à Trois – have become hugely popular in the U.S., especially among millennials. Since these blends aren’t named after the kind of grapes they’re made with, it can be tough to decide what to try next.
So, first things first: What’s in Apothic Red and Ménage à Trois red blend?
The answer: Zinfandel, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and – in the case of Apothic Red – Syrah. These blends are full-bodied, fruit-forward, and have a fair amount of residual sugar. Because of their sweetness, wine experts consider these blends to be “entry-level wines.” As you try more vino varieties, you may find that you start to prefer drier styles.
What to Try Next:
One of the constituent parts in these blends, Zinfandel is bold, full-bodied, and jammy. With low acidity and notes of blackberry, strawberry, and cinnamon stick, Zinfandel is a great next sip.
If the thing you like most about your blend of choice is the smoothness (a.k.a. easy drinkability), try a Merlot. This smooth and balanced wine has a velvety mouthfeel, and is typically more affordable than its popular partner in crime, Cabernet Sauvignon.
With fruity notes of cherry and dried fig, plus hints of cedar and sweet tobacco, Spain’s top red wine will help broaden your wine horizons. You may see Rioja on the label, as that’s one of the main growing regions of this age-worthy red.
Folk & Fable
If you’re looking for a more sophisticated red blend, Bright Cellars’ own Folk & Fable has notes of stewed fruit and warm baking spices like vanilla and cinnamon. Plus, it’s partially aged in Bourbon barrels.
Barefoot Pink Moscato
For many people, sweet and fruity Pink Moscato is their first foray into wine. With flavors of juicy cherries, tart raspberries, and a hint of jasmine and mandarin oranges, this pink drink is made with Muscat blanc grapes, plus a dash of Merlot for color.
As you consider what to try next, here’s something to keep in mind: While Pink Moscato is the same color as rosé, it’s not actually rosé. While rosé comes in a wide range of styles, dry rosé is particularly hot right now, so it’s more likely that you’ll find dry styles on cocktail menus. If you’d like to dip your toe into the world of rosé, consider starting with a sweeter variety, like White Zinfandel.
What to Try Next:
With bright fruit flavors like strawberry, blackberry, and rhubarb, plus a kick of acidity, Lambrusco is a bold next step on your vino journey. For decades, Lambrusco had a reputation for being super sweet. However, many varieties made today are actually dry (secco) or barely dry (semisecco). So, if you prefer a sweeter taste, go for a sweeter Lambrusco, like Lambrusco Salamino.
Made in Piedmont, Italy, Brachetto d’Acqui is a sweet red wine with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and sweet cherry sauce. Some versions are slightly sparkling (“frizzante”) or full-on sparkling.
While sweet Riesling used to be all the rage, more recently a drier style of this beloved wine has come into fashion. Keep an eye out for a sweeter Riesling from Germany or Alsace – a region of France with German influences – where wines tend to have distinctive floral and fruity aromas and zippy acidity.
Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi Chardonnay
A hugely popular grape, Chardonnay has panache. This white wine stands out from the crowd because of its medium-bodied richness. Featuring tropical fruit flavors and a hint of cinnamon and maple, Woodbridge Chardonnay has a toasty finish.
As you expand your horizons, keep an eye out for fuller white wines.
What to Try Next:
With notes of pear and honey, Chenin Blanc can be made into a range of styles, from dry to sweet. If you’re a Chardonnay fan, check out an oaked Chenin Blanc with notes of butterscotch and baked apple.
A rich white wine with ripe fruit flavors of mango and peach, Viognier is made in a similar style to Chardonnay. Once you start getting into Viognier, you’ll notice some differences, like stronger floral aromas of rose petals and perfume.
If you haven’t heard of Godello, it’s because it’s a rare grape. However, its bright citrusy notes, slightly creamy texture, and smoky minerality will take your taste buds on a wild ride. If you can find a bottle, it’s certainly worth sipping.
Franzia Cabernet Sauvignon
Cabernet Sauvignon is the most popular red grape in the world and with good reason. Its depth of flavor, structure, and overall balance make it a perfect wine to try when you’re first starting out. Franzia Cab boasts rich, fruity aromas of plum and cherry.
What to Try Next:
With fruit flavors of dried cranberry and raspberry, notes of baking spices, and a hint of umami, Carignan (pronounced “care-in-yen”) is a great way to branch out. Because of its unique flavor, this medium-bodied red is also an easy wine to pair with a variety of foods.
Malbec is a similarly bold red wine with slightly darker fruit flavors, like plum and blackberry. Fans of Cabernet might prefer an Argentinian Malbec, which tends to have more fruity notes and softer tannins compared to its French counterpart. Plus, if you’re exploring Argentinian wines, you’ll find some exciting Malbec-Cabernet blends, which have a little something for everyone.
Lesser known but equally delicious, Mourvèdre comes from Spain. Featuring dark fruit flavors and robust tannins, this full-bodied red is a must-try for lovers of Cabernet.
Yellow Tail Pinot Grigio
Pinot Grigio is a popular starter wine because it’s light, fruity, and refreshing. The perfect chilled beverage on a hot sunny day, Pinot Grigio pairs well with fresh foods and is considered highly drinkable. Yellow Tail’s popular Pinot is fresh, zesty, and has bright fruit flavors like passionfruit and pear.
What to Try Next:
If you live for the fresh, lively taste of Pinot Grigio, be sure to add Grüner Veltliner to your “next up” list. With light citrus flavors and a balanced minerality, this popular German wine will expand your horizons with its slight herbaceous streak – similar to the “green” note in Sauvignon blanc.
This light Greek wine is similarly known for its bright fruit flavors, acidity, and minerality. Originally from Santorini, this people-pleasing wine is now grown all over Greece.
Spanish Albariño is another light, dry, highly acidic wine that’s perfect for those of us who love a chilled light white. With aromas of peach and apple, citrusy notes of lemon zest and grapefruit, and a hint of saline that’s reminiscent of the seaside, Albariño is an exciting step outside Pinot lovers’ comfort zones.
In Vino Finito
It can be scary to step outside of your vino comfort zone and try something new, but the risk can be very rewarding. As you think about what to try next, start with what you like to drink now. If you’re out dining, you can always ask the server for help.
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If you’re a current Bright Cellars member and would like to try any of the “What to Try Next” wines above, reach out to our Concierge team (firstname.lastname@example.org) who will be happy to include these wines in your next order.