Posted On: 08/01/2017
Choosing a wine is a lot like traveling: You don’t always understand the language, you’re trying really hard not to look like an idiot and it’s easy to get lost. Sometimes getting lost leads to the best experiences, and sometimes it leads to terrifying episodes you’d rather forget, but either way you’re probably a little drunk by the end of it. Even if you don’t plan to get around like a local, big landmarks can do wonders for figuring out where you are – saving time and making a trip worth the expense. Consider Reeds American Table advanced sommelier Andrey Ivanov your temporary tour guide to American wine lists. We asked for a handful of key words that could get us to dependably excellent bottles in the fewest number of steps possible. We’re not trying to be fluent here – just tell us what to look for on a menu that we might actually remember and will always be good. Here are the U.S. regions that won’t steer you wrong.
“If you like big red wines from California, you’ll like Washington,” Ivanov said. Eastern Washington is sunny and dry with predictable weather patterns and (comparatively) cheap rent, currently attracting a lot of interesting winemakers from Napa Valley. “They’re not shy about it – these are big wines,” Ivanov said. “I can’t think of a bad vintage from Washington.” Look for Columbia Valley and Walla Walla Valley reds.
New York’s Finger Lakes
If you’re looking for cool cool-climate wines in styles similar to Germany, look no further than New York. Ivanov said the whites, pinot noirs and cabernet francs coming out of the Finger Lakes region are affordable, high-quality domestics that hold their own against more recognizable names.
Located in the confluence of two wind currents, Santa Barbara has just about every kind of wine-growing climate within a 35-mile radius. “There are not many places in the world where you can do both grüner and grenache,” Ivanov said. Santa Rita Hills is the coldest AVA wine-growing region in California – turning out chardonnays, pinots and syrahs, while Happy Canyon produces some great warm-weather cabernets just miles away.
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