The mythology surrounding the Bermuda Triangle might be exaggerated, but there’s an equal perilous triangle in the world of white wine, one that ensnares many an unwary drinker and leaves them blind to the rest of the world around them. While the grapes that make up this triangle are three of the finest white wine varietals on the planet, they’re not the end-all, be-all for sure. While wine lists might be awash in them, when you step away from Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, and Pinot Gris(gio), you’ll find an incredible wealth of white wine.
If you’re a fan of Chardonnay, you might well find that more full-bodied white wines suit your palate. In particular blends that have lots of Roussanne in them might give you that richer texture you love. Similarly, barrel-aged Viura from Spain can be broad and generous without being cloying.
If you’re a Sauvignon Blanc fan, you probably love vibrant acid and leaner body. Fortunately there’s lots of wine out there aimed at you. If the citrus and minerality is what does it for you, you can get similar notes in Gruner Veltliner, which also often adds a white pepper element. If you’re more just into screaming acidity, look at Vinho Verde and Txakoli. One of my favorite alternatives is Chenin Blanc, which may have a bit more of an apple and pear note, but definitely also delivers that racy finish. Dry styles of Riesling, which have become far more popular in the last decade, can also give you that kick in the teeth you like.
When it comes to Pinot Grigio, affectionately (or not) referred to as the beige of the wine world, the challenge is finding wines that are nondescript enough to fit the bill. Muscadet from the Loire Valley (made from the Melon de Bourgogne) grape often does the trick, as can Albarino from Spain, though that often has at least some floral components.
For all the snark, each of those three varietals I mentioned at the top have their time and place, and in some cases can be breathtaking good. That said, if you find yourself reflexively ordering them time and time again, maybe now’s a chance to escape from the trap.
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