I was first exposed to the concept when I was writing the wine column for the Sonoma County Independent.
The Independent was a weekly publication that would be categorized as an “alternative weekly.” It was printed in a tabloid format, and was heavy on local entertainment listings, restaurant reviews and the occasional hard-hitting feature on topics such as the upcoming cannabis festival or the encroachment of civilization on the local farmland.
The writing was sharp and focused, and the newspaper gave both locals and visitors a taste of what it was like to live or be in Sonoma County. I was proud to have my byline among that group of talented writers — one of whom introduced me to the concept alluded to above.
He was the newspaper’s music critic, and when reviewing an album released by a local singer or band, he’d typically accompany it with a little information box that included the record company’s name and this tidbit of information: “If you like (insert band name here), you might like (XYZ band).”
I can’t tell you how many times I took his advice, and checked out a previously unfamiliar band. Back then, before iTunes and other digital platforms that enable us to “test-drive” music before we buy it, music lovers depended on reviewers to help guide us in our purchases. My fellow Independent writer’s “If you like, you might like…” recommendations are, in large part, why my CD collection is so big.
It dawned on me the other day that the same approach could be taken with wine, because some wines share quite similar qualities. Each variety is unique, but each also shares aromas, flavors and/or textures with one or more other varieties — as my old music critic friend’s exercise will demonstrate…
- If you like rich Chardonnay, you might like Viognier.
- If you like a lighter style of Chardonnay, you might like Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris or Pinot Grigio.
- If you like Pinot Noir, you might like Grenache or Gamay.
- If you like Merlot, you might like Carmenere.
- If you like Cabernet Sauvignon, you might like Nero d’Avola or Cabernet Franc.
I’ll go more in-depth with some of these “if you like, you might like…” suggestions in future blogs. For now, just keep in mind that when you open your mind (and your mouth) to new varieties, your enjoyment of wine is guaranteed to expand.