When you go into a wine shop on a Friday looking for a bottle to end your week, where do you usually go?
The bargain bin, right? Or, more appropriately, the well-placed bargain shelves that stand just at eye-height and don't make you do any work to find them. Sorry, anyone who ever taught us anything about wine, but that is just often how it goes. Even those of us who really enjoy a good dig around the shop or pretty much always want to try something new sometimes just don't want to put in the effort at the end of a busy week.
Next time you visit a wine shop, however, keep the following in mind and see if you can't try something new or, if you do want to stick with the tried and true, try a different region or country producing the same grape.
So, who are the cool kids? I think it should come as no surprise whatsoever that Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon (which, did you know is actually a blend of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc?) top the list of the most popular wines consumed in the U.S.
Chardonnay comprises fully 20% of all wine drunk in this country, with Cabs following shortly behind. After that, there are varied opinions on what's next but the following positions are typically held by a mixture of the following: Pinot Grigio, Red Blends, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, and Merlot.
So next time you're looking for that perfect bottle, maybe you'll try a different grape (two of my personal favorite and only slightly out-of-the-box options are Viognier for white and Petite Sirah for red) or maybe you'll just consider a different region for your favorite Chardonnay (try Edna Valley) or Cabernet Sauvignon (North Coast, Mendocino, or Lake counties).
Final tip: the bottle may not always clearly state where the wines are from. Make sure to check in with the wine shop owner and don't be shy about asking questions. That's what they're there for. Make all the money and time they spent studying to be able to help you worth it for them :)