Adventurous Wine Picks


In a fit of spontaneity, I purchased three wines at a local Trader Joe’s that don’t fit nicely into my usual-pick categories. Irritated by my rote wine-drinking habits, I got frisky and chose a New Zealand Sauvignon blanc, an Italian red blend of Montepulciano, Cabernet sauvignon and Merlot called Trentatre Rosso; and a South African Pinotage. All were surprisingly affordable. Here’s what I discovered:

2008 Zaràfa Pinotage
South Africa
An ebullient, quick burst of berry-cherry fruitiness on the palate was quickly overshadowed by a sharp-sour punch I found disagreeable. Soft tannins give the wine a nice structure, but the lingering smoky-sour-burned rubber taste remaining after several sips of this light-bodied Pinotage made me long for a second glass…of something else.

2008 King Shag Sauvignon Blanc
New Zealand
Okay, I’ll admit it, I bought this Sauvignon Blanc because I couldn’t resist the name of the winery. But seriously (as Meredith Grey always exclaims so earnestly in Grey’s Anatomy), I was delighted with the crisp, minerally-melon flavors of this companionable wine, with its lilting citrus notes and satisfying, dry finish. Slurp it with your favorite cheese and crackers.

2007 Trentatre Rosso
With its brambly, jammy flavors and soft, supple structure, this easy-drinking red was my favorite of the three. This is a wine you could pair with hamburgers, a hearty beef stew or pepperoni pizza. I loved its approachability and versatility.