Betty's Wine Musings

The Joys of Tasting Unknown Wines

Yesterday, my wine group did another one of our famous tastings of unknown wines. We tasted 12 European wines that none of us, or very few of us, had ever tasted. I hope you enjoy hearing about our fun. I encourage you to try to find some of these wines and see what you think.

 

Tasting Unknown Wines

An Interesting Factoid About Unknown Wines

In my article entitled “Doing a Tasting of Unusual Wines,” I talked about there being more than 10,000 different grapes in the world, with approximately 1,400 of these grapes being used to make wine. Of the 1,400, a very small number makes up the bulk of wine production. As a perfect example, in France today, the 20 most popular grapes account for 93 percent of total wine produced!

The Wines We Tried

Our first two wines were white. Our next 10 were red. I didn’t take perfect notes on the wineries. But I captured all of the grape (variety) names. Here is what we tasted in the order of the tasting:

  1. Insolia from Sicily
  2. Fileri from Greece
  3. Frappato from Sicily
  4. Mondeuse from the Savoie region of France near the Alps
  5. Zweigelt from Austria
  6. Baga from Portugal
  7. Two Mencias from Spain
  8. Refosco from Northern Italy
  9. Sumoll from the Catalonia region of Spain
  10. Xinomera from Greece
  11. An Italian blend of Corvina and Randinella

Our Tasting Experience

We realized very quickly that when we taste a wine that doesn’t taste like anything we’ve tasted before, we lean towards not liking it. We did our best to abide by the three-sip rule, where your first sip shocks your system; your second sip gets you acclimated; your third sip leads you to start to understand the wine. Even so, we were pretty challenged by a bunch of the wines. Our two favorites were Zweigelt and Refosco, which I’ll describe next.

Zweigelt

Zweigelt (pronounced TSVYgelt) is Austria’s most planted red wine grape. It’s a cross between Blaufrankisch and St. Laurent, that latter of which Wine Folly says is a lot like Pinot Noir. The wine was a gorgeous bright cranberry color and had a lot of cherry and black pepper notes. We thought Zweigelt would be a great picnic wine.

Refosco

According to WineWordWisdom.com, Refosco is “Northern Italy’s hidden wine gem. It is grown principally in the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region in northeast Italy and the nearby Venezia and Treviso provinces of the Veneto region. The grape has been well known since antiquity and is believed to be indigenous to northeast Italy. Various ancient Roman writers and personalities sang the praises of Refosco wines… It is a late-ripening variety and is known for producing wines that are full-bodied with high levels of acidity and robust structures and personalities.” The one we tried wasn’t full bodied. It was actually a light wine that had nice complexity. It reminded us of a Pinot Noir.

If you’ve tried any of these 12 wines, I would love to hear about your experiences. Please share them with us here. Thanks.

BettyPhotoCircularAs an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

As an independent wine consultant with WineShop At Home, I absolutely enjoy bringing a taste of the Napa wine country home to you one sip at a time. Whether you simply love to drink wine, seek a special personalized wine gift, or are in search of a new wine jobs opportunity as a wine consultant, feel free to contact me for a truly unique wine tasting experience!

Cheers, Betty Kaufman
WineShop At Home

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