Most of us choose a wine because we’ve had it before so it’s easy to go back to the same old safe choices. Trying new wines can be risky, especially if you’re giving the wine as a gift, bringing it to a friend’s house, or will be spending a bit more than usual and not sure if you’ll like what you’ll get.
At my January wine tasting at A Tutti Pizza we tasted 5 Sonoma wines that I bought from the local PA Wine and Spirits store. I wanted attendees to have the opportunity to taste some new wines that they could easily pick up here in Philadelphia. We tried a selection of whites and reds so there was something for everyone.
All of these wines can be purchased locally at PA Wine & Spirits stores and all are worth trying. Prices range from about $19 to $25. As a general rule, most wines in this price range are made with a little more care than the less expensive bottles so they are a fairly safe bet but buying any of these will be a sure win.
MacMurray Estate Vineyards Chardonnay 2016
This Chardonnay was one of the two winners of the night. One of the most surprising comments came from a friend who said that she really only likes red wines but this one was her favorite of everything that we tasted. It’s not very sweet and filled with melon flavors. Of the whites that we tasted it was the clear favorite. This is one that you could give as a gift to just about anyone.
Frei Brothers Sauvignon Blanc 2015
I recently had the Frei Brothers Pinot Noir and it was excellent so I wanted to try a white wine from the same winery. Sauvignon Blancs aren’t as popular as Chardonnays so I expected that fewer people would like this one and that was the case. At first, I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked the Chardonnay but then it quickly grew on me. It has a lot of flavor, especially citrus fruits and vanilla. I probably wouldn’t give this one as a gift unless I knew that the recipient was someone who liked a lot of different white wines. The Chardonnay is definitely the safer option of the two.
La Crema Pinot Noir 2016
This Pinot Noir was the most popular of the reds and the other winner for the night. As a general rule, Pinot Noirs are easy to drink, will suit just about anyone, and work well with just about any meal. Pinot Noirs are a lighter red wine so they are generally liked by red and white wine drinkers. This Pinot Noir is bright and tastes of dark fruits like red cherries and raspberries. If you’re looking for a gift but not sure, the La Crema Pinot Noir will always be a good choice.
Simi Merlot 2015
For those who like a heartier wine with more character and depth, the Simi Merlot is an excellent choice. What I like about it is that it’s not really overwhelming. It doesn’t feel heavy and it goes down smooth and easy. It has a taste of plum and black cherries and it’s a great wine for a cold winter day. I’d get this as a gift for someone who I knew really liked red wines but it’s a little riskier for someone whose tastes you don’t know.
Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2015
Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep red wine with a lot of heavy flavors and complexity. It leaves a dry taste in the mouth due to it’s high level of tannins. Of the reds, this was the least popular though I think it would be worth trying with a fatty steak to offset the dry mouth feeling. I tried to pick out the flavors and didn’t have much luck, which is part of the ‘complexity’ of the wine. It’s supposed to have cherry and black pepper aromas and the tastes of rich fruits and spicy oak. Personally, I can’t say that I could pick any of those out but I still liked it but not having had a ton of Cabs I don’t have much to compare it to. You shouldn’t take my work for this one, give it a shot if you like dark red wines or just want to try one.
If you’d like to taste new wines and learn more, please come to the next tasting event. You can find out more and RSVP at https://jonmillerhomes.com/wine-tastings/