Tips to Expand Your Palate

By November, 06 2018

There are literally thousands of different wines out there, thankfully, all waiting to be discovered. Yet despite the endless choice, it’s all too easy to get stuck in old habits – you find a wine that you adore and faced with the possibility of trying something that doesn’t stack up, or worse, tastes like an international crime of outrage has just been perpetrated in your mouth, there you remain.

  However, when it comes to wine, variety is the spice of life, and if you’re ready to branch out from that faithful go-to tipple, then here are some tips to help you find your next favourite in the alcohol shops of Dubai.  

Sauvignon Blanc – Albariño

Tart, citrusy and with layer upon layer of apricot and peach, there are so many reasons to love Sauvignon Blanc, however, if you can tear yourself away consider trying an Albariño instead. Hailing mainly from Spain and Portugal, it’s a tad less herbal, but offers the same refreshing citrus and mouth-watering acidity, alongside a big hit of lemon zest, grapefruit and melon, and thanks to its coastal growing zone, a briny hint of the sea as well. You can find the lovely Martin Codax at both MMI and Al Hambra Cellars and the Gota de Mar at Barracuda, all for around 90 AED.  

Oaky Chardonnay – Premium Chenin Blanc

If you like your wine rich and creamy with toast and baked tart flavours, then Chenin Blanc makes a great alternative to an oaked Chardonnay. As well as fruity pineapple, chamomile and honeyed quince flavours, well-made examples also display similar high-end winemaking techniques, like lees stirring and malolactic fermentation. Entry-level prices Chenin Blancs are not made the same way so they won’t have the complexity you’re looking for. Most South African Chenin Blancs in the 100 AED + range are what you’re looking for. Both MMI and Barracuda currently stock the gorgeous Nederburg, The Anchorman Chenin Blanc for 100 AED.  

Malbec – Australian Shiraz

You could equally reverse this and suggest that if you love a full-bodied Australian Shiraz then why not try a Malbec. Both work well with food but are just as enjoyable on their own, with kitten soft tannins and rich, ripe fruit flavours. You can find the Pablo Y Walter Malbec at Barracuda for 65 AED, the Jacob’s Creek Reserve Barossa Valley Shiraz at MMI and Barracuda for 80 AED and the wonderful Catena Malbec at Africa + Eastern for 132 AED. If you’re looking for a treat yourself, meanwhile, Al Hamra Cellars currently stock the incredible Penfolds Bin 28 Kalimna Shiraz for 321 AED.  

Beaujolais – Italian Primativo

Down to earth and with tangy blackberry, tart cherry and pomegranate notes, Beaujolais is a great food wine, pairing well with everything from burgers to pasta – a trait it shares with the Italian Primitivo. Usually un-oaked, dark and inky, with chunky tannins and a depth of fig and blackberry flavours, Primitivo is an easy sipper, but also tends to have riper aromas, making it even fruitier, in our opinion, than a Beaujolais and definitely worth a try. You can find the Da Luca Primitivo at Africa + Eastern for 55 AED.  

Rioja Reserva – USA Zinfandel

Technically Zinfandel and Primitivo are the same grape, however, the difference in style and production between the European and American versions is where your palette really gets its work out. Similar to a full-bodied Rioja Reserva, US Zinfandel tends to come from older vines and specially selected grapes, giving them a complex concentrated flavour, supported by a sweet, coconut smokiness imparted from the oak. Many of the alcohol shops in Dubai are currently stocking the Beringer Founders Estate Zinfandel for around 80 AED, whilst MMI, Al Hamra Cellars and Barracuda all offer the Kenwood Sonoma Country Zinfandel for 90 AED.  

Bordeaux – Carménère

With its roundhouse punch of cherry, chocolate and herbs, Bordeaux might seem hard to beat, but a well-made Carménère might surprise you. A relative of both Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, Carménère actually originated in Bordeaux too, before being wiped out there by disease, and it certainly has the family nose, with bountiful levels of pyrazine, the chemical compound that gives all four wines their leafy, herbal aroma. Just like a good Bordeaux, the more you spend the more you’re likely to be rewarded, however, Africa + Eastern have the lovely Santa Carolina Carménère for 63 AED, whilst MMI stock the wonderful Concha y Toro Terrunyo Block 27 for 173 AED. Wherever and whatever you’re drinking in Dubai, if you’d like more advice or recommendations on what’s available in the city’s liquor stores, then drop us a line and we’ll help you make the right choice.    

The Wines we tasted

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