While Christopher Columbus—whose 662nd birthday we mark this coming Monday—didn’t exactly discover America, he did contribute greatly to Europeans’ awareness of the American continents.
That’s good enough for a three-day weekend as far as I’m concerned.
All told, under the auspices of the Catholic monarchs of Spain, Columbus led four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. It was his sense of discovery, apparently without fear, that I most admire, and have long sought to emulate in my encounters with wine.
It’s so easy to get into a vinous rut once we discover a particular wine that we really like. But when it comes to the fermented gifts of the grape, a sense of discovery can be extremely rewarding. There is so much to explore, and the exploration can follow any of several paths.
Let’s say you drink nothing but Chardonnay. Your “wine expedition” may begin by trying other white varietals, such as Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Vinho Verde or Viognier.
Are you a Merlot fancier? Perhaps it’s time to try Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel, Malbec or Mourvedre.
If you’ve already explored many of the white varieties, it might be time to sample some reds… or rosés… or sparkling wines. Likewise, if all you drink is bubbly, the time has come to discover still table wines.
You also could emulate Columbus and do your exploring by country. If you like California Cabernet, try a French Bordeaux red. If you like California Chardonnay, seek out an Australian rendition. Some countries grow varieties that you may never have heard of, yet can be amazing treats for your palate.
And here’s the coolest thing of all for wine drinkers in search of vinous adventure: Whether you explore by wine style, wine type or wine region, every year… every vintage… brings something new to explore in each and every category.
On Monday, join me in raising a glass to Christopher Columbus… and uncorking (or unscrewing) a bottle you’ve never had before.