For every customer who comes into the store asking for some no-name oaky buttery chardonnay, there are two or three who show up and can’t wait to say, “I hate chardonnay.” Okay, that’s not exactly what they say. Usually there are a few expletives tossed in, loudly, for emphasis. This is a family publication so I’ll just leave their remarks up to your imagination. But trust me. They’re not kidding when they say they don’t like chardonnay.
I have no desire to talk the Anything But Chardonnay (ABC) crowd off the ledge. These are people who, somewhere along the line, tasted something wine-like called chardonnay and decided that this globally popular variety was not for them. End of story. A few unfortunate ABCers have had the double misfortune of running into some plonky sauvignon blanc, and have now sworn off white wine forever. That’s okay, too. People should drink what they want. But to toss out such a large percentage of the wine produced in this world because of a few unlucky glasses is going a bit too far. What to do?
As Willy Wonka said so memorably to Mrs. Gloop, when her son took a header into the chocolate pond, “nil desperandum!” Never despair. No worries. Even if you or your loved ones think, because of some chardonnay or sauv blanc trauma, that whites are no longer for you, I’ve got news for you. It’s good news. And it’s this: you’re wrong!
There are exactly 2.5 gajillion (trust me on this number – I’m in the trade) other varieties of white wine grapes in this great vale of tears, grapes which produce wines that taste absolutely nothing like chardonnay or sauvignon blanc. Do you like wines with great fruitiness? Try a muscat or a spatlese riesling. Want something crisp and clean for your favorite seafood dish? Check out northern Spain for some albariño. Need a simple, low alcohol wine with a bit of zip to throw back on a hot summer day? Look no further than Portugal’s vinho verde. Or, maybe something full-bodied with hints of lush peaches, apricots and a bit of spice is more up your alley. Grab yourself a viognier from southern France. Dream of sailing the deep blue waters of the Aegean Sea off the coast of Greece? Get ready for your voyage with some assyrtiko from the island of Santorini. Is that a gajillion yet? I could go on. The point is this: it’s a pretty wide playing field out there and if you haven’t found something you like in the ever-expanding world of white wine, keep looking. There is a grape out there with your name on it, waiting to show you just what you’re missing.
If you want a few more ideas on how to navigate the No-Chard Zone, drop me a line. Let me and my staff help you out. That’s what we’re all about here at The Grape Belt. (Just kidding. I don’t really have a staff. At least not one that cares as much as I do.) And if you can’t get a hold of me, talk to your local wine merchants. They live to serve you and your wine needs. Honest.