By Elspeth Brown
Since COVID-19 reared its ugly head in March, shutting down businesses, Maggie B’s has had to make some very substantial changes. We began offering only curbside pickup and delivery for wine and beer. This meant that our physical store was not open to the public. We currently do not offer a list of our wine and beer selection online. So, that means that unless customers know exactly which vineyard and varietal they want, it falls to me to choose the wine within their palate perimeters and price range. That part of my job has been so much fun!
It has been intriguing to see how customers enjoy the different wines chosen for them. My favorite grape varietal is pinot noir and even I get in the habit of drinking the same wine over and over because it is an easy choice. But it is always exciting when someone brings in a new and fresh wine that I have never tried before.
For wine drinkers who appreciate sweet rieslings, a different varietal to choose from would be Gewürztraminer from Germany. Gewürztraminer is very aromatic and finishes with some residual sugar and spice.
Pinot grigio drinkers would enjoy a Picpoul de Pinet or an Albariño. Piquepoul blanc is the grape found in Picpoul de Pinet from France. While it is light-bodied like a riesling, the wine has sky-high acidity, salinity, lemon and a bone-dry finish. Albariño wine is a little richer than Picpoul de Pinet, but also has some nice acidity on the finish with lime and ginger flavors.
If you are an avid butter, oaky, chardonnay drinker, then falanghina from Italy would be an interesting change and marsanne from France would really excite your palate. Falanghina has pear and apple flavors with a touch of spice. Marsanne grape has an extraordinarily rich yellow color. The wine also has pear and spice, with a nutty, full-bodied finish.
My favorite pinot noir could easily be replaced by a French Gamay, and an unoaked grenache. Gamay grape is light-bodied and extremely juicy with notes of strawberry and cherry. Grenache is a bit heavier than a pinot noir, but when it is aged in stainless steel it retains those ripe raspberry and cherry flavors.
Merlot has never been my favorite grape, but the alternatives, Montepulciano and cabernet franc, are delicious! Montepulciano is a medium-bodied, dry Italian wine. It has a touch of blackberry fruit and earth on the finish. It is also a deal price-wise for the quality of the wine. Cabernet franc will be a little fuller-bodied than merlot, but a great possibility. The wine is incredibly soft in your mouth while still finishing dry. It also has some peppery and floral characteristics.
Most customers do not venture out from their beloved cabernet sauvignon, but if you wanted to try something with a bit more spice, pinotage and aglianico would fit the bill. Pinotage is primarily produced in South Africa. It is a full-bodied, vegetal red with flavors of licorice, tobacco and leather. This can be a much stronger, more expressive red than cabernet sauvignon when aged in oak. Aglianico grape from Italy has been a long-time favorite of mine. This is such a neat wine. You can find savory notes such as cured and smoked meats along with flavors of cherry and blackberry.
This month take an opportunity to try something new, an interesting wine, and find a new favorite. Cheers!
Elspeth Brown is the owner of Maggie B’s Wine & Specialty Store, 10 C South Main Street in Weaverville. For information visit MaggieBsWine.com or call 828.645.1111.