5@5 - Wines you should be drinking
June 28th, 2011
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

"Ordering a bottle of Pinot Grigio is like ordering salmon at a four-star restaurant - not entirely bad, but something more appropriate for your grandmother," asserts Michael Madrigale, the head sommelier at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud in New York City.

When it comes to wine lists, Pinot Grigio is the frontrunner in the lineup of usual suspects - and it's easy and part of human nature to flock toward what you know and recognize.

Sure, there's no shame in the Pinot Grigio game - a nice glass of it can be just as delightful as a glass of Vitovska Grganja - but there are plenty of grapes out there to explore that are equally as available.

Sometimes what you're really looking for has been right in front of you all along.

Five Wines You Should Be Drinking Instead of Pinot Grigio: Michael Madrigale

1. Riesling
"Aromatic and noble, Riesling is God’s gift to wine lovers. It’s fresh and zippy enough to enjoy on the patio but it also has a brooding, intellectual edge. It’s a story teller changing its narrative depending on where and how it’s grown.

The best versions never see an oak barrel and come from Germany, Austria and France’s Alsace region. Honorable mention to Australia’s Clare Valley."

2. Beaujolais
"There is no better red wine value on the planet than Beaujolais. The main reason for this is that the region’s best wines have a hard time being sold due to the unfair association with the strawberry water that comes in the flower adorned bottles that your Uncle Leo brings over for Thanksgiving dinner.

The best wines come from the 10 'Crus' that are located in the northern part of the region where there is a high concentration rugged, granite soils. At best, Beaujolais is a round and juicy wine with wild strawberry and raspberry flavors and with the best ones, you can even taste granite."

3. Greek wines
"Greek wines get no respect. Nearly every time I suggest one to a guest at the restaurant, they cringe as if I’ve stepped on their foot.

The dreaded reputation of Retsina (wine made with pine resin that was popular in the US in the 70s and 80s) are the main root of the bad image of Greek wines. But that works just fine as it keeps the prices low relative to the quality.

Whites are the star of the show in Greece with Assyrtiko from the Island of Santorini being its headliner. It’s peachy and salty and you can taste the volcano smoke from the soil which make it a dazzling pairing with charred octopus.

Also, Moschofilero from the Peleponesse is aromatic and fresh and shouldn’t cost more than $15 in a wine shop."

4. Chablis
"No, not the stuff in jugs at the liquor store. Real Chablis from the eponymous village in France is one of the great examples of 'terroir' in the world.

65 million years ago the region was underwater and over time the deposit of minerals, fossilized oysters and sea urchins created a ridge of limestone and chalk that give the wines a truly unique stony and saline character.

To this day it is considered the best value in Burgundy and there is truly nothing on this green earth that goes better with freshly shucked oysters."

5. Sherry
"You may think Sherry is only for people with monocles and pipes who are solving mysteries in old London town, but in reality it's fantastic wine for all occasions. It originates from Andulucia, Spain and can be made in numerous styles.

Fino and Manzanilla Sherries are dry, crisp and somewhat nutty which make them perfect for cocktail hour with a side of Marcona almonds or olives.

Amontillado and Oloroso Sherries are dry as well but are moving into a darker, richer and more oxidized style that demand heaver food like jamón ibérico or bacon-wrapped dates.

And finally, Pedro Ximénez Sherries are deep and sweet with a syrup like consistency that are great dessert wines to pair with chocolate cake."

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Favorites • Sip • Think • Wine

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. Marc_Sommelier

    Dear Steve,

    I happen to be a Sommelier and whilst appreciating the fact that there are many so called 'sommeliers' who are as much of a sommelier as basil fawlty who said 'Most of the guests who stay here would not know the difference between Bordeaux and Claret' I'd like to point out that there are a lot of us who take great pride in what we do, serving our guests and giving the best professional advice or just simply taking the wine order when neccesary, I think it is very unfortunate that all the 'sommeliers' you've come across are amatuers, it is not a sommelier's job to make you feel uncomfortable, we are hospitality professionals our job is to make the guest feel welcome, also please note that most sommeliers don't admit that to gain the knowledge they have takes a lot of hard work and studying and is not some innate super ability that God has bestowed on a privileged few as admittedly some like to believe, and finally I am a great admirer of sangiovese and chianti and do agree with you that it makes, when produced well as in the case of all grape varities, a great drink

    June 30, 2011 at 4:26 am |
  2. Bubba

    It's ok to say, 'you should try these wines.' It's not ok to say 'you shouldn't drink these other wines.' That's what "pretentious" means in this context.

    June 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
  3. wendy

    mmmmmmm the Hogue winery out of Washington.... Late Harvest Riesling. delicious!!!

    June 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  4. Bubba

    Charred octopus? Wine that tastes like smoke? Old Mert down at the Bait Shop says he's got some catfish this guy oughta love.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
  5. Al

    I've learned not to trust sommelier. I don't know much about wine but every time I trusted the sommelier's suggestion it was very expensive and didn't even go with my dish. I think their whole raison d'être is to sell unpopular over priced wines. I find that Chianti is the most under-rated and appreciated wine. I've had people roll their eyes when I ordered a glass of Chianti but it goes well with many rich and robust dishes.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  6. I, Kahn O'Clast

    The author must have one heck of a sweet tooth. I find half of the recommendations undrinkable and often turn to Pinot Grigio since it is usually very very drinkable....

    June 29, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • native varietal

      Standard pinot grigio is harvested underripe and made into a crisp, neutral, inoffensive wine at a modest price point that shares a certain appeal with Smirnoff vodka. Serious pinot grigio is another animal altogether.

      June 30, 2011 at 1:51 am |
  7. appcomplain

    I'd like to see Narendra Modi, the minister of Gujrat in the hot seat. There are rumors that he was somehow involved in Godhra Riots which happened between Hindus and Muslims.

    June 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Bubba

      Really, and does he have some suggestions about what wine is best with civil unrest, or did you comment on the wrong article?

      June 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
      • Kara

        I literally laughed out loud at my desk when I read that. It was almost a snort

        June 29, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
      • Bubba

        Red wine with food riots, white with arson?

        June 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
      • kat


        June 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  8. marco

    Not sure if this is related to not having a sense of smell but EVERY single red wine tastes IDENTICAL to me. EVERY single light beer tastes identical to me, but not the lagers or ales. Shoot, I don't even know what bad poon tang smells like.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  9. Burgerman

    While I am at it, I would like to mention my favorites. First, the Cotes du Rhone from Parallel 45-great red between a merlot and a cab. Goes with almost anything including chocolate! Second, a bit more forward, the Mouton Cadet Bordeaux from Rothschild. Also a nice wine with heartier foods such as steak or stews. For cheeses as fondues or Raclette, I can't get Fendant locally, so I find a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and fruity to offset the heavier cheeses. All come in at between 8-10 bucks a bottle and are quite drinkable. Have been favoring the above reds since the mid '80's and have yet to be steered offcourse too long. The Sauvignon is a more recent discovery that I find more often open than the reds in the hotter months.

    June 29, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Bubba

      A six-pack of Bud with possum and sweet 'taters.

      June 29, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
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