Try One Of These Wine Styles Every Month This Year
If you’re wandering through your local wine shop with apprehension, you’re not alone. It can be tough to branch out and sample new wines and it’s easy to get locked into a comfort zone when it comes to your favorites. But one of our wine goals for 2023 was to try new wines, so here’s a wine list, month-by-month, of all the wine varieties, types and even spritzers you should sample this year.
January: Tawny Port
You’re cold, already failed at half your New Year’s resolutions and most of your friends are doing dry January, so you’re left to drink alone. It’s fine, though, that means more Port wine for you, no need for sharing. Tawny port is the alcoholic equivalent to your grandmother’s homemade stew — it warms the tummy, it’s tasty and comfortable. The tawny’s aged blend of wines makes for a nutty and sweet taste, adding a little extra happiness to your January.
February: Nero d’Avola
You’re still cold, and in desperate need of some comfort as spring is nowhere in sight. A strong red is needed to do the job. Sicily’s Nero d’Avola wines come from a thicker skinned grape, so naturally drinking it will give you a thicker skin to deal with whatever February throws at you. Okay, maybe not, but Nero d’ Avola wines are low in acidity and full bodied, just what you need to warm up in winter.
The weather is thawing, and so is your mood. The possibility of spring is near. Sights are set on something floral, whimsical and you’re feeling a little spicier than usual — the exact qualities that match a Malbec. Argentina is famous for their Malbec wines. In fact, their national grape is the Malbec, so sample a bottle from your Latin American neighbors to the south. Pair it with pork, ribs or even oily fish, like salmon.
We all know the saying, it’s time for April showers. Combat the damp, spring weather with a dry Albariño white wine from the Riax Baixas area of northern Spain. The notes of citrus fruits such as lemon, as well as pear and peach will remind you that summer is in sight. Pair it with light bites like fresh clams or ceviche.
May: Vinho Verde
Warm (ish) weather is on its way, and you’re ready to rock. Winetraveler tip: Save the big bucks for a wine-inspired vacation and pick up a bottle of inexpensive Vinho Verde. While it directly translates from Portuguese to English as green wine, it actually means young wine. Fresh, light and effervescent, it’s basically you, emerging from your winter cocoon.
June: Sauvignon Blanc
Zesty, floral and fruity, Sauvignon Blanc wines bring France’s wine regions like Bordeaux and the Loire Valley to mind, but we suggest trying one from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. Considering 80% of all wine from New Zealand is of this variety, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding the perfect bottle. It’s also super affordable. Expect fruitier flavors, as New Zealand’s Sauvignon Blancs often age in stainless steel vats.
If you’re overwhelmed with NZ Sauvignon already and willing to spend more, consider exploring the wines of the Loire Valley’s Sancerre wine region.
It’s full-fledged summer, and there’s nothing like sipping a crisp rosé, well, pretty much anywhere at anytime in July. The obvious choice is a bottle from France’s Provence region. But don’t let the lighter, more delicate peach tone of Rosé from Provence fool you into thinking it isn’t complex. You’ll note hints of berries, fruit and even spice. Many of the best bottles aren’t cheap, but a poolside splurge is worth it. #RoséAllDay
August: Champagne Punch
There’s nothing better on a hot summer day than a bubbly champagne punch (truly — forget the beer!). These light and refreshing spritzers often feature things added to your champagne like orange juice, sake, fruit and more. Our personal August favorite is the Raspberry Lemonade Prosecco Punch, made from sparking wine, limoncello, raspberries and sprigs of fresh mint.
RECOMMENDED: Homemade Limoncello Recipe: How to Make Limoncello
September: Pinot Noir
Fall is on its way, and even though it’s not freezing just yet, a light red will get you prepared for the fall weather and cozy hygge that you can soon expect. Pinot Noir is the perfect choice, and sampling a bottle from Burgundy is easy, as this region has more Pinor Noir than any other. California is another region that produces it, and you can pair it with almost anything.
Spain’s most famous wine comes from the Rioja region, a blend of grapes but mainly featuring the Tempranillo. The wine itself is fruity, often with an oak or vanilla flavor. It’s also very affordable, especially compared to other wines of its caliber. You’ll find the more Rioja wine you drink, the more you crave it — ¡Ole!
November: Sparkling Prosecco
Celebrations are in order as the holidays approach, and nothing says Thanksgiving like the clink of glasses full of Prosecco — salute! Although many refer to the fizzy drink as Italy’s version of French champagne, there is a key difference in production. Most Prosecco gets its bubbly nature from a second fermentation method completed in a large pressurized tank before being bottled under pressure. In contrast, Champagne gets its bubbles from fermenting in its own bottle.
December: Mulled Wine
While mulled wine is the most low-brow wine on this list, it’s probably the most satisfying. The piping hot drink is usually made from (cheap) red wine mixed with spices and fruit. This isn’t the wine you sip carefully over a gourmet dinner, identifying hints of chocolate as you discuss tannins. Instead, it’s the wine you drink at a Christmas market in Europe, after a day of ice skating, or whip up for friends while tipsy at a late-night party. Cheers!