Betty's Wine Musings

The Last of the Reds I’m Going to Try

For the last two weeks, I’ve been talking about red wines I plan to try. I’ve been using Red Wine – The Comprehensive Guide to the 50 Essential Varieties & Styles to find the reds that are unknown to me. Today I’ll be wrapping it up by talking about the final reds I’m going to try. Once again, I hope you will join me in this WINEderful adventure.

Öküzgözü

Öküzgözü is pronounced oh-cooz-goe-zue. The name means “bull’s eye” in Turkish, because the grapes are big and fleshy just like a bull’s eye.

 

The next time you think bull's eye, you can think Öküzgözü
The next time you think bull’s eye, you can think Öküzgözü

 

This is Turkey’s best-known variety, and it grows throughout the country. It likes hot dry summers, along with an elevation up to 3,500 feet, which allows it to get the cooling effects of the Euphrates River. The wine is oaked minimally or not at all. So, it’s a good one to drink young.

 

It’s often blended with Boğazkere, but is now made as a standalone wine quite often.

 

What to look for in the nose: cherry, blackberry and floral notes, with a touch of spice.

 

What to look for in the taste: This is a medium-bodied wine that offers a combination of fruit and savory flavors, with light notes of green bell pepper. The wine has soft tannings but bright acidity.

 

This wine pairs well with smoked foods and eggplant/tomato dishes.

Plavac Mali

This is a little-known variety that grows all over Croatia. Plavac Mali means “small blue,” which describes the grapes.

 

From the Croatian Saints Hills Winery website, it says very beautifully, “Croatia, at the heart of Europe, at the heart of the Mediterranean. Adriatic sea and our Saints Hills’ vineyards are but a stone’s throw away from Dubrovnik, and two from Diocletian’s Palace in Split and Vespasian’s Amphitheater in Pula. Here we celebrate the sea and sun, Dalmatia and Istria, Bora and Scirocco, stone and vine.”

 

During summer months, the sun burns hot, but the Adriatic breezes cool off the grapes, and the evenings are even cooler.

 

Plavac Mali accounts for 10 percent of Croatia’s vineyard land, but it ranks as the most economically important red grape there. UC Davis did some research because they thought the grape was related to Zinfandel – a la Primitivo. But it turns out that an ancestral Zin was involved in the making of this grape. So it’s not a Zin. But the alcohol levels are in the Zinfandel range – from 13 percent to 17 percent.

 

This wine has high tannins and a lot of body. You’re likely to get aromas of black plum, dried cherry, black raspberry and cassis. These are found in the taste too, along with blackberry, pepper, licorice and clove. Okay, this is definitely one of the reds I’m going to try.

 

This wine pairs well with beef, lamb and pork. As a vegetarian, I’m sure I will be able to find some good dishes to go with this wine. I’m thinking pizza.

Saperavi

Saperavi
Saperavi

It’s time to go to another country. This time – Georgia. Saperavi is Georgia’s most widely cultivated red variety. The name means “dye” or “paint” and highlights the grapes’ dark-colored skin and pulp. The term for a grape with red skin and pulp is teinturier. The book I’m reading encourages us to attend a Georgian tasting but bring a toothbrush 🙂

 

The grape grows in Georgia, as well as Bulgaria, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine. You can find small plantings in New York’s Finger Lakes region and in South Australia.

 

The wine can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet fortified. Its strong tannins and bright acidity work well for aging.

 

This one definitely sounds like a good one! Look for notes of blackberry, plum, cocoa, coffee, espresso and truffle. YUM!

 

This wine can pair with a bunch of different dishes. The two that sound the best to me are chili and blue cheese.

Teran

Teran originated on the plateau of Istria, which includes southwestern Slovenia, northeastern Italy and western Croatia.

 

This wine ripens late in the growing season, producing wines with character, potency and strength.

 

Bruno Trapan of Trapan Winery says, “Teran is special to me because it is a very wild grape, a very wild wine. If you learn how to control it, it gives big but smooth and elegant wines. It’s a smooth criminal!” Wow!

 

Single-varietal Teran doesn’t age very well. It does much better on the aging front when blended with Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon.

 

Teran is very fresh and fruit-forward (cherries, raspberries, blackberries) with nice tannins and fresh acidity.

 

Of the final reds I’m going to try, this sounds like a great one, because it pairs well with pizza and pasta. Yay! It also pairs well with prosciutto and other hams.

Xinomavro

This is the second most planted red grape in Greece. The name means acid black or sour black, but the wines are great, according to the book’s authors.

 

Look for fruit-forward aromas including red raspberry, red plum, cherry, prune, and hints of vegetables such as sun-dried tomatoes and green olives. They say that “It’s bold in the mouth with flavors of red fruits, summer vegetables and a touch of dried Mediterranean herbs in the finish.” I’ll take that!

 

Food pairings: meat, meat, meat.

Zweigelt

This is Austria’s most consumed wine. It’s an easy-drinking wine with aromas and flavors of cherry, purple flowers, cinnamon and nutmeg. The wine has good minerality and tannins.

 

This is another meat-friendly wine. They recommend pairing it with schnitzels.

 

I hope you enjoyed my walk through of the red wines I’m going to try. If you have experience with any of these wines, please share them with us. Thanks.

 

Cheers!

 

 

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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