08/08/12 – seeking a white for the end of the week

By Jesse on August 7, 2012

white-wine.jpgTemperatures are getting a bit Venusian this week, and many of us will presumably be celebrating the arrival of the weekend by opening a delicious bottle of refreshing white wine.  But how can we ensure that this bottle will quench not only the physical thirst but also the wino’s internal, insatiable drive for vinous stimulation, for excitement, for uniqueness?  One way, certainly, is to test-drive a new and unusual grape variety.  The last thing you want when you’re trying to make your taste buds dance is to seek solace in a nice glass of white wine and discover it’s the same grape variety you’ve encountered at every other party, on every other wine list, etc.  This week, let’s break out of those repetitive patterns by tasting some of the more obscure white grapes.

What wine should I bring? You can bring any white wine, as long as it’s not one of the following eight extremely common white grapes:

1.) Sauvignon Blanc
2.) Riesling
3.) Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
4.) Viognier
5.) Sémillon
6.) Gewurztraminer
7.) Muscat
8.) …and the most common of all, Chardonnay

WTF, Jesse? That’s like every grape ever. Why can’t I bring one of those? Because there are so many other amazing white grapes out there that are just begging to be tried! You can’t live your life with just ten socks, or ten foods, or ten friends, so why should you limit yourself to ten grapes?

The possibilities are truly endless. You could bring a Spanish white — an Albariño from Rias Baixas, or a Verdejo from Rueda, for example. Or what about a bone-dry Grüner Veltliner from Austria, or a slightly sweet Scheurebe or Silvaner from Germany? If you want to go Italian, you’ve got tons of options: northern varieties like Arneis, Pinot Bianco and Traminer, for example, or any of the tasty whites from the middle and south of Italy, like Fiano or Vermentino.

If you’re feeling French, how about a Chenin Blanc from the Loire, an Aligoté from Burgundy, or a Marsanne / Roussanne blend from the Rhone Valley? Or what about an Ugni Blanc from down south? Speaking of south, why not go to Argentina and get a bottle of that impetuous grape Torrontés? Or stick to America and grab a Grenache Blanc from Santa Barbara County, a Pinot Blanc from Oregon, or a Vidal Blanc from the northeast.  Getting outside your comfort zone is a great way to have an enological adventure (or an enoventure, as I will refer to it numerous times at the meeting, well beyond the point when it ceased to be whimsical anymore).

Incidentally, this week’s meeting will be a great opportunity for anyone trying to join the Wine Century Club to rack up some grape tallies. For those who aren’t aware, the Wine Century Club is an informal organization of wine drinkers who have each tasted 100 or more varieties in their lifetimes. Becoming a member is easy: you simply make a list of 100 different grapes you’ve tried, and what the wines were called. Then you send in your list, and you get a certificate to hang on your wall. Truly badass. (For more information, check out the Century Club website.)  Even if you never intend to drink 100 varieties, this week’s tasting is going to be an awesome opportunity to get outside the box and drink some unique and rare grape types that you won’t typically find on the grocery store shelves or on average wine lists.

We’ll be meeting at Ryan’s place in West LA. The RSVP system functions like this: if you want in, you click on this link and tell me so (don’t forget your full name, e-mail address, and a cute message conveying to me your intentions). Once you’ve gotten your confirmation e-mail, go out and find yourself a bottle of white wine from outside your comfort zone… or bring a $10 donation, if you prefer. See you Wednesday night at 8pm!