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5 of Our Favorite Unique Wines for 2018 + Pairings!

Are you looking for that next great wine to share with friends and family? Bringing a bottle of Cabernet or Pinot Noir to your next social gathering will always be appreciated – BUT bringing a bottle of something that no one has heard of is a conversation starter. It’s an icebreaker. It’s an immediate way to set yourself apart from the crowd.

We have cultivated a list of 5 spectacular lesser known grape varietals that are certain to make your next dinner party POP.

Baga – The Dark Star of Portugal

Typically found in the Bairrada DOP near the Atlantic coast, Baga constitutes a minimum of 50% of the blend of all red wines coming from this beautiful region.  The wines are unique in their strong tannins and high acidity, making them glorious companions of food.

Classic Pairing: Feijoada – Meat and Bean Stew
This mix of beans, beef, and pork gives the perfect combination of rich meat for those thick tannins to latch onto, while also being appealing with the higher acid of the wine.  The grape’s tendency towards dark berry fruit, plum, and coffee do a wonderful job of rounding out the dish.

Try our favorite Feijoada dish to pair with your next bottle of Baga.

Falanghina – Next Summertime Sipper

This zesty white wine is grown in the Campania region surrounding the city of Naples, Italy.  Ringed by the Gulf of Naples which opens up into the Mediterranean sea, the vineyards around Campania enjoy refreshing sea breezes and annual temperatures in the mid 70’s.

The wines typically display notes of vibrant green apple and lemon, with a steely mineral core.  A note of salinity can often accompany this beautiful coastal varietal.

Classic Pairing: Fritto Misto di Mare – Fried Mixed Seafood Platter

In one of the most mouthwatering pairings you are likely to come across, this bright wine works wonders in cutting through the fried aspect of this traditional Campanian dish.  The variety of seafood classically prepared with Fritto Misto di Mare work wonderfully as conduits for the brightness of traditional Falanghina wines.  These seafood options include:

  • Shrimp
  • Calamari
  • Smelt
  • Mussels

Try the Terredora di Paolo Falanghina Irpinia 2016 with your next seafood dinner.

Frappato – Sicily’s Best Kept Secret

Traditionally, Frappato is known for its use as a blending grape with Sicily’s hero, Nero d’Avola.  On its own, Frappato can display beautiful, bright purple floral notes, soft tannins, and a lively berry character wrapped around a mushroomy, earthy core.  While drinkable young, Frappato typically shines after 5-7 years.  This Sicilian gem makes for a great partner with a variety of pork dishes.

Classic Pairing: Mushroom Balsamic Pork Chops

A beautiful accompaniment with the intensity of the fruit from the Frappato, rounding out the flavors of the pork.  The mushroom notes of the dish match wonderfully with the earth tones of the wines.

Jacquère- Fondue Lover’s Dream Wine

Once again, the rule of what grows together goes together holds true.  Jacquère, a true alpine wine, is grown throughout the Savoie region of eastern France. Traditional examples of this versatile white have a strong mineral core with a delightful floral character, balanced with notes of Bosc pear.

The versatility of Jacquère is, in fact, best utilized in its clarity.  A clean, mineral core with a spectacularly round mouthfeel make drinking Jacquère with a variety of rich cousine an absolute delight.

If the French do one thing as great as they do wine, it has to be cheese.

Classic Pairing: Cheese Fondue

Fondue, with its rich, mouthwatering decadence, is a food that deserves special attention in terms of pairing.  The round mouthfeel of the wine combined with the exceptional clarity make pairing Jacquère with a variety of cheese fondues a true pleasure.  A few wonderful cheeses to start with include:

  • Gruyere
  • Emmental
  • Cheddar
  • Fontina
  • Comté

Try a pour of the Pierre Boniface Les Rocailles Apremont Vielles Vignes 2015 for your next trip into indulgence.

Xinomavro – Tough to Grow, Great to Taste

Often described as difficult in the vineyard, Xinomavro rewards Greek winemakers with a broad profile of spiced olives, vegetal tomato leaf, and rich tapestry of deep florals.

Classic Pairing: Loukaniko – Greek Sausage

Often flavored with orange peel, leeks, garlic, fennel and spices, this classic spiced Greek sausage makes for one beautiful partner with Xinomavro.

The vegetal, herbaceous nature of the wine matches wonderfully with the spices used in the sausage.  Smooth tannins maintain a supple mouthfeel with the fat of the pork.

We hope that you enjoy these unique wine pairings.  It is always worth looking beyond the normal and trying something new in the world of wine.  As they say, variety is the spice of life.  Live a little more with these spectacular wines in 2018.

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