Maggie Walters

Wines to get you out of your “wine rut” in the new year!

It’s safe to say that we all love a good new years resolution—whether it’s focused on staying positive, taking more time for self care, or decluttering your living space, they’re all noble causes. In the spirit of setting these resolutions this January, I would love to inspire you to add one more to the list: try new wines! A mentor of mine once referred to the most popular grape varieties as “The Big Four.” I laughed when I first heard this term, but then it hit me – it’s so true! More often than not, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Grigio bottles are grabbed without a second thought – I find myself guilty of this too. With this new year upon us, let’s welcome new wines into the rotation. Listed below are some grape varieties that I hope will inspire you to veer off the main path of “The Big Four.” 



Tempranillo is Spain's top variety. It’s made famous by the wines of Rioja, whose wine labels serve as classifications for their age statement in oak. For example, a wine labeled Reserva is aged 1 year in oak and 2 years in the bottle before it’s released. Try Marques de Caceres Reserva Rioja if you enjoy heavier red wines – especially great for Cabernet Sauvignon lovers! Tempranillo pairs well with steak, gourmet burgers and rack of lamb.  



A fruity, floral and sometimes earthy light-bodied red that is the main variety planted in Beaujolais. Don’t turn away from this grape variety if you’ve only had Beaujolais Nouveau. Nouveau is only one style of this red wine. Opt instead for a Beaujolais Cru, a serious light red wine that is so reminiscent of a delicious Pinot Noir! Try Georges Duboeuf Chateau de Nervers Brouilly for a dry, light red. This grape pairs with all manner of dishes, from sweet and sour Asian to beef stroganoff. 


Chenin Blanc

These grapes produce a very lean, mineral-driven white wine that offers flavors of tart pear, quince, ginger, and chamomile. Try Mullineux Kloof Street Chenin Blanc from South Africa—dry, crisp and refreshing! Because of Chenin Blanc’s awesome acidity and inherently fruity flavor, you’ll find it pairs well with foods that have a sweet and sour element. Southeast Asian cuisine or pork chops with apples make for great pairings.



This grape gets a bad rap from the cheap plonk sweet stuff in the blue bottles. Try a bone dry Riesling from an excellent producer, and your mind will be forever changed! These wines are so packed with acidity that they make for a great start to a multi-course dinner, and a nice way to cool off on a hot day. Try Zull Riesling from Austria. Riesling makes a great pairing to spicy Indian and Asian cuisines and alongside duck, pork, bacon, shrimp and crab.

I hope you enjoy branching out this year with new wines. Your homework is to try through these different styles and pick your favorites. Want more varieties to explore? Come into Colonial and talk to a wine specialist. We have dozens more grape varieties to recommend throughout this year! 

Jodie SpearsComment