Remember those old Designer Imposters “perfume” ads from the 80s? If you like Giorgio, you’ll love…
I always think of those whenever I’m chatting with someone who’s new to wine. I mean, really new to wine, as in “I’ve had wine a few times and think I like it…but am not sure what to try next. How do I know what I like?” If you haven’t tried a lot of wines, it’s tough to get your bearings. To tell a newbie that something takes a little like a Carneros Chardonnay means nothing if you’ve never had a Carneros Chardonnay. Instead, I quiz them about what other beverages they prefer. That way, if they tell me they like Tang, I know they’ll love…well, actually, I don’t know anyone who likes Tang. And frankly I have no idea what the wine equivalent would be. But here are some other ones that are much easier to translate:
Lemonade: Easy–German Riesling, which has that same perfect tension between tart and sweet.
Black tea: Tannic, bitter, and a little earthy, it’s the ideal gateway beverage to Barolo, Barbaresco, or pretty much anything else made from Nebbiolo
Black coffee: Syrah, especially from the Northern Rhône. In my favorite Syrahs I always get lots of coffee notes.
Coke: Rioja. Aging in American oak creates all kind of vanilla and spice notes, hallmarks of the taste of Coca-Cola.
Any Starbucks variation on a theme of coffee and chocolate: Ripe, rich California Merlot with a ton of mocha notes.
Cranberry juice: Pinot Noir (outside of Burgundy), Dornfelder, Gamay. Anything with bright, tart, red fruit.
Water: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)