Wine in 2019: If you like that, you may like this

The New Year marks a time for change, for new experiences. Can this apply to wine? Of course it can.

In 2019, open a new door and venture out of your comfort zone by purchasing a different grape variety than you normally would or, if you are not prepared for that big of a leap, stick with your favorite grape variety yet purchase a wine made in a different region or country. 

So if you like that, you may like this.

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California Cabernet Sauvignon is a local favorite when it comes to red wine. If Cabernet Sauvignon is one of your go-to wines, instead of dashing to the USA section on your next visit to the liquor store and snagging that familiar bottle, change course and head over to Spain. Select wine from the winemaking areas of Rioja, Ribera del Duero, or Priorat, or select one of the wallet-friendly bold reds from La Mancha and Jumilla.

Also, don’t overlook the bold and full-bodied red table wines from Northern Portugal or the stunning Amarone from Italy.

If you prefer to stick with New World wines, then Australian Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous Barossa Valley was made for you.

Are you a fan of pasta or pizza with red sauce? If so, you’re surely a fan of Chianti, the red wine of Tuscany, Italy. For those who like “food wines,” those with high acidity, red fruit and a sprinkling of herbs and spice, I suggest you purchase Pinot Noir from France, Italian wines made from the Sangiovese grape (Chianti is made with Sangiovese as are others), Tempranillo based reds from Spain, and Grenache blends from the Rhone Valley of Southern France.

Merlot is making a comeback. It's lush, soft and bold and laden with dark-fruit. Merlot fans should know this variety shares a similar profile to California Zinfandel. Also look to Bordeaux wines produced in the right bank of Bordeaux which are typically Merlot-dominant red blends. Perhaps most similar to Merlot is Chile's signature red grape, Carmenere which was miss-identified as Merlot for many years.

Are you in love with Shiraz? Australia put Shiraz on the world wine map. Shiraz is full-bodied, bold with dark fruit flavors, and high in alcohol content, which are mimicked in New World Cabernet Sauvignon and the bold reds from the southern Okanagan Valley. The dense red wines of Priorat, Spain, Nero d'Avola and Primitivo from Italy and California Zinfandel should be on every Shiraz drinkers “try-this” list.

Local Pinot Noir followers have a preference for New World Pinot Noir but you are definitely missing something if you don't taste Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France, the gold standard for Pinot Noir. Be certain to try Pinot Noir from Oregan, Sonoma Valley in California, and New Zealand. Other wines to try, those made from different grape varieties are Tempranillo blends from Spain and Sangiovese based wines from Italy.

If you are a red wine drinker venturing into the wide world of whites, start with medium-full-bodied dry whites such as New World or Burgundian Chardonnay, Roussanne from France and Alsatian Pinot Gris, also from France.

Riesling, the most beautiful and diverse of white wines, is fragrant, delicate and delicious. Other light-bodied and highly fragrant wines are Torrontes from Argentina and Muscat from winemaking areas in the Mediterranean.

Pinot Grigio – a favorite on restaurant wine lists – is dry, quaffable and a good food pairing wine. Try wines produced from the grape varieties Albarino, Arneis and Verdicchio and Spanish white wine blends.

Gewurztraminer, with its aromas of rose and lychee, is so very decadent and tasty. Worthy substitutes are Alsacian Pinot Gris, Riesling from Germany and Washington State, and Viognier from France, known for its weighty texture and lush aromatic profile.

Sauvignon Blanc, light-bodied, dry and known for its searing acidity and herbaceus, citrusy profile, has some commonalities with Gruner Veltliner, a peppery light-bodied dry wine from Austria. Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé are fine examples of Sauvignon Blanc from France, but do not state the grape name on the label, only the area in the Loire Valley where these wines are made.

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