Tastes Like Grape: How to find cool wines to impress your friends

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      Tastes Like Grape is a wine column by self-taught enthusiast Martina Maude.

      You’ve likely felt it before (I know I have): the unspoken pressure of selecting a bottle of wine that not is not only delicious, but that also proves your unequivocal superior taste.

      Shopping for the perfect wine has come to be seen as a testament to how in the know you are. It can have the same power as Spotify Wrapped: an announcement to the world of your inner workings. 

      In fashion, powerful semiotics guide our general knowledge of what’s hot and what’s not. The Adidas Sambas, we can all agree, are both an obvious observation of this and perhaps a lazy one, since we’re all doing it.

      However, in all things grape, scaling “cool” can be harder to accomplish. There are elements of the unknown that a perfectionist might shiver at the thought of, and there’s also a pageantry in the unveiling of an unheard-of label or in showcasing a wine that your friends have only ever caught glimpses of on TikTok. 

      There are trends in wine that you’ve probably picked up on that can guide you into what’s “hot” or not: think natural wines, low-alcohol wines, zero-proof wines, and the rise of orange wines. Then, there are movements that run in the depths of oenophile circles: think niche regions in France, clay pots buried in the ground, and impossible-to-procure small batches from Germany. As an amateaur looking in—nose pressed against the glass and all—this can throw my head into a tizzy.

      So I’ve pulled together a few resources that can help with overcoming or embracing what’s “in” for the upcoming season of giving and gathering, along with a couple of selects to try.

      Winefluencers 

      Rien Sans Peine Deux

      The Montreal-based enthusiast brings followers through each sip of carefully curated hidden gems. What you can expect is a key to an unknown world: knowledge sharing of innovators and celebrated characters you may otherwise never hear about, as well as interesting varietals.

      Cokiesworldofwine

      Cokie is a great resource to introduce you to the why behind what you’re drinking. She gives overviews on regions in both the new and old world, and has an incredibly approachable voice—which has most probably contributed to her rise in popularity over the past year.

      Wines to try

      Wines from the Jura, a small region in central-eastern France, produce delicious red and white wines: chardonnay, sauggnoin, and trousseau poulsard (bet you haven’t heard of those last two before). The region is known for three obscure wines in particular: vin jaune, macvin, vin de paille. Give Domaine Vendange Mondeuse’s Vin De Savoie a go; you’ll find it at BC Liquor Stores for under $30, and you’ll be transported into France through a beautifully balanced mix of black currant and white pepper notes. 

      And natural wine will perhaps always be on my list. Try the Ugni Glou from Domaine Rimbert; my editor told me this unexpecting crisp and balanced chardonnay can currently be snagged from Liberty Wine Merchants for around $30 (though stock is running low at the Olympic Village location).

      Happy learning and tasting; hopefully you’ll be impressing your most wine-forward friends soon.

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