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All podcast music: “Café connection” by morgantj / CC BY 3.0, ©2009 – Licensed under Creative Commons 
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Sep 17, 2018

There are so many different wines that are similar to the standbys most people know and love. This time, Ian Renwick, shop owner of in the U.K. (Devon but he ships all over the U.K.!), talks with me both about ideas for alternatives and vocabulary you can use to get even more alternatives locally. Another riff on vocabulary and expanding your palate, this is a must-listen! 


Here are the wines we discuss with some vocabulary and alternatives, but I'd recommend looking at Ian's site: to get even more ideas of categories and vocabulary!

1. Sauvignon Blanc:

  • Terms to describe: acidic, crisp, tart OR herbal and grassy OR tropical, OR minerally and tangy
  • Alternatives: Vinho Verde from Portugal, Verdejo from Spain, Rousette from Savoie in France

2. Pinot Grigio:

  • Terms to describe: Tart, neutral
  • Alternatives: Pinot Blanc, Vernaccia from Italy, Ugni Blanc, Clairette, Vermentino

3. Chardonnay:

  • Terms to describe: oaky, creamy, buttery, rich OR crisp, minerally, tart, citrus, not aromatic
  • Alternatives: South African or Loire Chenin Blanc, Grenache Blanc/Garnacha Blanca, Fiano di Avellino, Etna Bianco (Burgundy alternative)

4. Merlot and Malbec:

  • Terms to describe: Full and fruity, easy drinking, soft, unoaked, Malbec -- spicy
  • Alternatives: Primitivo, Nero d'avila, Negroamaro, Valpolicella -- Italian varietals from warmer places, Bobal from La Mancha in Spain

5. Rioja:

  • Terms to describe: Dusty, tannic, medium bodied
  • Alternatives: For Elizabeth -- Bordeaux only, for Ian -- Garnacha, Bordeaux, Ribera del Duero, Toro, Navarra

6. Cabernet Sauvignon:

  • Terms to describe: Dry, tannic, fruity, or earthy and dry
  • Alternatives: For Ian -- other Cabernet, For Elizabeth - Douro, for both -- Uruguayan Tannat

7. Pinot Noir:

  • Terms to describe: Earthy, spicy, acidic, tart, crisp, lightly tannic (Burgundy) OR ripe, red berry notes, full flavored, heavier (most U.S. Styles)
  • Alternatives: for light styles: Zweigelt, Sankt Laurent, Blaufrankisch, Loire Cabernet Franc, Arbois, Spätburgunder. For heavier styles: Gamay, Grenache/Garnacha, Syrah


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