Adventurous Wine Picks

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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
$3.99
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
$6.99
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
Italy
$5.99
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.