From Portugal’s vinho verde to Sancerre from the Loire Valley, Musement shares 12 European wines typical of the continent.
Whether it’s food or cocktails, we should never underestimate the transportive power of our taste buds. It practically goes without saying that this philosophy can be applied to wine as well. Why not let our palate take us across the pond via European wines?
Though travel restrictions are starting to lift, the global situation is iffy and it’s understandable that jetting off to Europe might be on hold for the foreseeable future. So, to help quell your travel appetite, here are 12 European wines that you can drink at home.
1. Sancerre, France
This Appellation d’origine contrôlée (AOC) sits in the Eastern part of the fabled Loire Valley, on the river’s left bank. Made from sauvignon blanc, the wines are crisp, acidic, citrusy, and may even have a flinty mineral note due to the terroir. The region also produces some pinot noir, but it’s most known for its white wines.
2. Bordeaux, France
In some ways, Bordeaux needs no introduction—even someone with a basic understanding of wine knows the local grapes go into one of the world’s finest and most revered European wines. Centered around its namesake city along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers and Gironde estuary, Bordeaux produces around 700 million per year as a whole. These dominant grapes are merlot, cabernet franc and cabernet sauvignon, and they’re often blended to result in intense, medium- to full-bodied intense reds with flavors of black currant, plum, and even vegetal flavors like green pepper. Bordeaux is also home to La Cité du Vin, an a fascinating exhibition space dedicated to the local wine.
3. Friulano, Italy
When it comes to Italian white wines, pinot grigio and the bubbly prosecco may be the first to spring to mind. We suggest also keeping an eye out for Friulano, the white grape that characterizes the Colli Orientali del Friuli, Collio, Isonzo, and Grave del Friuli DOCs. These light- to medium-bodied white wines have much complexity and bright flavors like honey, apricot, and almond with more nuances due to the particularity of each terroir.
4. Etna Rosso, Italy
Sicily has incredible wines and those made from grapes harvested on the foothills and slopes of the still-active volcano. Mount Etna produces some of the world’s most interesting wines due to its volcanic soil. The Etna Rossa DOC makes wines predominantly from the nerello mascalese grape, though sometimes nerello cappuccio comes into play. These wines tend to be luscious with ripe fruit flavors and a potent earthiness along with some spice and smoke.
5. Tokaji, Hungary
Haling from the Tokaj region of Hungary, Tokaji can be made from six grape varieties, one of the most dominant being furmint. The wine itself comes from grapes harvested in a UNESCO-protected territory near the Carpathian Mountains, Tokaj is a sweet, golden-hued wine made from grapes that have undergone noble rot. Aszú, the most well known, has been made for centuries and enjoyed by royalty and luminaries over the centuries.
6. Assyrtiko, Santorini
The Greek islands have tons going for them, one of which is wine. Assyrtiko is a white grape indigenous to Santorini, whose volcanic ash soil impacts the wine’s flavor. Citrusy, minerally and acidic, assyrtiko is always a crip and refreshing treat,
While not exclusive to Germany, riesling did originate in the Rhine Valley and is one of the most intriguing and versatile varietals out there. Though technically a dry wine, it can be on the sweeter side, and it tends to have a distinct peachy and apricot flavors, pleasant acidity, and other delightful nuances depending on the terroir.
8. Grüner Veltliner, Austria
Austria’s most planted grape variety, grüner veltliner is a lovely white wine that pairs especially well with vegetarian dishes. Marked by stone fruit as well as vegetal notes and, at times, a trace of white pepper, the wine is a great just for sipping on a summer evening.
9. Rioja, Spain and Basque Country
Rioja wines are made from the tempranillo grape in the autonomous communities of Spain’s La Rioja and Navarre as well as in the Basque province of Álava. This full-bodied tannic wine has a bright cherry flavor often undercut by vanilla due to oak aging.
10. Vinho Verdhe, Portugal
Emblematic of Portugal, vinho verde (which means green wine) and consists of nine sub-regions in the Douro Valley. Several varieties are used to produce red, white, and rose wines.
11. Plavac Mali, Croatia
Croatia is just as appealing as to wine lovers as it is to Game of Thrones fans. Plavac Mali, a red grape harvested along the Dalmatian Coast, is a cross between Crljenak Kaštelanski and Dobričić grapes. This full-bodied tannic wine has robust flavors of dark fruit like blackberry and occasional spicy notes.
12. Pálava, Czech Republic
Pálava, the offspring of between Müller Thurgau and Gewürztraminer, is a relatively young grape variety that burgeoned in the 1950s. Produced in the region of Moravia, Pálava is a perfumey full-bodied golden white wine with stone fruit, lychee, and some spices—a true delight!