7 Wines Your Friends Will Love (That They’ve Probably Never Heard Of)

by Lauren Vigdor  |  04.03.2022

The world of wine tends to be one of the most intimidating factions of the beverage universe, and many of us live comfortably (or uncomfortably) between the lines of complete novice and total snob. With over 1300 different grape varietals in the world, it’s nearly impossible to come across someone who has tried them all (but let us know if you do!) Many people tend to find one or two varietals that they like and become loyalists. That’s okay! But in the efforts of impressing your friends and broadening their horizons, let’s take a look at a few lesser known wines to introduce to your friends at their next gathering. 

You might never convince Aunt Kathy to completely swear off her Sauvignon Blanc, but it’s always nice to introduce someone to something new that you’re confident they’ll enjoy. After all, variety is the spice of life!

Cava: For Brunch with Your Prosecco-Swilling Friends
Antonio Mascaro Pure Brut Nature, Mas Miquel, Cava, Spain 2017

Cava is to Spain what Prosecco is to Italy. Antonio Mascaro Pure Brut Nature has tiny bubbles as well as flavors and aromas of citrus and honey. It’s dry and high in acid, which makes it equally perfect for sipping or mixing into mimosas. 

Albariño: For the Sauvignon Blanc Enthusiast’s Beach Trip
Martín Códax Albariño, Rias Baixas, Spain 2020

Albariño is a great crowd pleasing wine. It’s dry and light with high acidity- perfect for your Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio drinking friends alike! Martín Códax Albariño is grown in sandy, mineral-laden soil on the Iberian peninsula along the Atlantic coast. It’s fresh and zippy with a hint of salinity, and pairs beautifully with seafood. Flavors of citrus and pear with a hint of minerality make this a perfect crowd pleaser.

Picpoul: For Lunch with the Pinot Grigio Aficionado
Acquiesce Winery Estate, Lodi Rules Picpoul Blanc, Lodi Mokelumne River 2020

Another wine that’s light enough for your Pinot Grigio drinking friends, with enough zest for the Sauvignon Blanc lovers, Picpoul is a French varietal not often grown in the United States. Grown sustainably in California’s Central Valley, Acquiesce Winery’s Picpoul is refreshing and bright, with hints of green apple and light floral notes – great for a Mediterranean or Thai lunch.

Carignane: For the Pinot Noir Devotee’s Holiday Party
Carol Shelton Wines Old Vine Carignane, Oat Valley Vineyard, Alexander Valley 2017

Bold enough to stand up to a rich holiday meal, Carol Shelton’s Old Vine Carignane has the raspberry and baking spice notes sure to woo your Pinot Noir drinking friends and family. Carignane is a medium bodied fruit-forward wine that pairs perfectly with food – just remember to give it a little time to breathe before you dig in.

Primitivo: For the Zinfandel Drinker’s Backyard BBQ
Garré Vineyard & Winery Primitivo, Livermore Valley 2018

Okay, okay, we kind of cheated here. Primitivo and Zinfandel are actually the same grape. Generally speaking, Primitivo is what the grape is referred to in Italy, whereas Americans tend to label it Zinfandel. There are, however, exceptions to every rule. Garré Vineyard & Winery’s Primitivo is estate-grown, meaning they grow the grapes on their own land, and tastes like dark fruit and spice with a touch of umami – perfect for pairing with grilled meats and tangy sauces.

Tempranillo: For the Cabernet Sauvignon Lover’s Pizza Night
Bodega Arcano Tempranillo, Ribera Del Duero, Spain 2018

Tempranillo is the number one varietal grown in Spain. While it tends to be slightly lighter and less rich than Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo takes extremely well to oak aging, and will often contain the notes of cherry and pepper Cab Sauv drinkers are so fond of. Bodega Arcano makes organic wines that attempt to preserve the heritage of their hilly vineyard community. Their full bodied Tempranillo, with its notes of dark fruit, vanilla, and spice, is equally good with a slice of pepperoni pizza as it is with an expensive steak. 

Tannat: For a Dinner Party with Your Friend Who Only Drinks “Bold Reds”
Jeff Runquist Wines Tannat, Silverspoons Vineyard, Lodi, 2019

A surefire way to knock the socks off that one friend who lives by the adage “the bigger the better.” Known for its full body, super high tannins, and off the charts antioxidant levels, Tannat is a varietal that has a reputation for being harsh. Jeff Runquist’s Tannat is tamed through a substantial aging process, and with notes of wild, jammy fruits and smoke pairs extremely well with braised meats.