A trip around the world in 100 wines

Century_Wine_ClubI came across the Wine Century Club this past week. If you’ve tasted at least 100 different grape varieties, you qualify to become a member. They describe themselves as “consumers and promoters of uncommon wine grape varieties”. I love the idea behind this club: it’s all too easy to keep going back to the same bottles, so we all (myself included) can use some encouragement to continue to try different bottles and discover new gems. I’m finding that there are a few challenges with the Wine Century Club’s particular approach though:

  • Quite a large number of grape varieties are mostly used (and best used) as blending grapes. That is, they are used (often in small proportions) to fill out a blend of different grape varieties. As an example, the grape variety Clairette produces wines that are high in alcohol, low in acidity, and tend to oxidize easily. As such, it rarely forms the majority in a blend, let alone it being used to produce a single-varietal wine. So in order to claim that you have tasted this grape variety, you will need to try a wine like the Chateauneuf-du-Pape Vieux Télégraphe Red, which contains a minuscule amount (<5%) of Clairette in its blend.
  • Focussing on different grape varieties doesn’t allow for trying out the same variety across different regions, which I find one of the most interesting things about wine. A Pinot Noir from Burgundy tastes distinctly different from a California Pinot Noir; the same “ingredient” produces a very different end-product, which is part of what makes tasting different wines such a fun adventure.

A trip around the world in 100 winesSo mulling this over, I came up with a slightly different approach; one that focusses more on the world’s different types of wines and wine regions than on different grape varieties. This approach moves away from the highly obscure and instead provides a glimpse of the wide variety of wines being produced across the world. You can download the overview here. You’ll notice that the overview doesn’t provide specific wines to try. There are two main reasons for this:

  • What wines are available in each market varies widely. As such, the best approach is to find a good wine store in your community and ask them for recommendations for each of the types of wines / regions. This will ensure you get a good wine within your price range, which leads to the second reason…
  • It provides some flexibility in terms of your budget. That said, two points:
    • I would strongly recommend spending at least $15-$20. For more info on why, check out this article.
    • Although for most regions you’ll be able to find great wines for under $25, there are a few that are expensive. Save those for a special occasion and enjoy!

For the wine geeks out there, let me know if you have any feedback on the list. What regions do you feel should be added and which ones could be removed to keep the list at 100?

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. Jenny

     /  December 24, 2013

    I think you should include jura, valtellina, alto-adige/valle d’osta, definitely frappato and nerello mascarese from Sicily, and i think sherry is definite must.


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