A Pinot Grigio stand-in from Spain
by: Vino Joe
Pinot Grigio has quickly displaced Chardonnay as the white wine of choice in the United States. More people are buying it and talking about it than ever before, and it's a wonder that the recent trend did not happen earlier. After all, a crisp white wine that has a mild, pleasant flavor and matches well with a variety of foods should be a big hit. Unfortunately, the demand for Pinot Grigio has swelled so quickly that wineries are barely able to keep up; the result is that there are many low-priced, low-quality Pinot Grigios coming into the USA and filling the shelves. The better examples are still available, but several are now overpriced. So how do you go about choosing a fairly priced white wine for dinner tonight?
As your boss likely said in your 10:00 meeting, think outside of the box! Walk by the boxes of Pinot Grigio that greet you upon entrance on the floor of the wine shop, and continue on to the aisle with wines from Spain.
"Spain? But dude, I need a WHITE wine," you counter. But alas, there is more to Spain than Rioja (Ribera del Duero, for those in the know). Some of the best wine values in the world are coming out of Spain, and contrary to popular belief, Spanish white wines kick ass.
Remember again why everyone is suddenly crazy for Pinot Grigio: it's a crisp white wine that has a mild, pleasant flavor and matches well with a variety of foods. Guess what: there are dozens of wines that meet exactly that description -- and several from Spain. One such example is Bodegas Aldial Naia.
The nose of Naia is clean, fresh and vibrant with ripe citrus fruit. The flavor is equally clean, tasting of fresh, ripe white peach, pear and grapefruit. A good level of medium acidity balances the fruit, and the wine finishes with a touch of mineral and spice. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, crisp quaffer, and an excellent stand-in for Pinot Grigio -- in fact, your guests may not know the difference. Naia is ideal as an aperitif, a perfect match for appetizers and even has the acidity and body to keep pouring into dinner, assuming the main course is a simply prepared white meat dish such as chicken, pork or fish. And at around 11 bucks, it's a few dollars less than the better Pinots. Bring it to the next barbecue, picnic or party, and watch the bottle go dry within minutes.
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