Pop quiz! You’re at your local wine market and feel like you’re drowning in a sea of the usual suspects, what do you do?

Most people might “give up”, and minimize their wine selection risk by doing one of the following:

  1. Seek out a trusted or smart-looking staff member for a recommendation, or
  2. Select their go-to bottle because it’s safe and easy.While tried and tested, the time is now for a little bottle bravery, and colour outside the lines with a wine from lesser-known red grape variety. You may be pleasantly surprised at how delicious this approach can be.

Let’s begin with an alternative to everyday Cabernet Sauvignon — look for the rare and regional Touriga Nacional. Touriga Nacional is an indigenous grape variety from Portugal that traditionally was used for Port, but has enjoyed recent success vinified in a dry style table wine. In terms of grape yields, Touriga Nacional is notoriously stingy, but produces fruit with high levels of tannin and loads of black and blue berry fruit. Next we look at the Carignan grape variety from Chile from the famous Torres winery. Finally a big, inky Petit Verdot, often used as a blending grape to add depth to a blend. As a single varietal it’s big and juicy with this one coming from Australia.

Subverting the Usual Suspects with Adrian Bryska’s Top 3 Uncommon Red Wines

2009 Quinta De Ventozelo Touriga Nacional

(Douro, Portugal)

2010 Miguel Torres Chile Cordillera Carignan

(Maule Valley, Chile)

Pirramimma in their 2012 McLaren Vale Petit Verdot

(McLaren Vale, Australia)

About Culinaire Magazine

Culinaire serves up features on dining in, dining out, wine, beer, spirits and cocktails. Culinaire is a food and beverage magazine tempting tastebuds, engaging appetites, and celebrating Alberta. We’re highlighting local people and learning from their experience and success. Sharing their secrets are chefs, sommeliers, brewers, mixologists, restaurateurs, and local food and beverage experts.


Thirsty for more uncommon wine suggestions? Check out What are Hybrid Wines?