When January rolls around, many people counteract the alcohol-heavy holiday months with Dry January. It’s a worthy endeavor that gives your liver a break, starts the new year with a clean slate, and gives many other benefits, besides. But if you don’t want to partake, there’s good news for you, too: cold turkey is not always necessary in order to stay healthy. Moderation is key, and as gastroenterologist and wine writer Michael Apstein wrote in his Decanter article, actually serves to better prep your liver to handle correct portions of alcohol (explained by him in much more scientific terms than that).
If you’re of the second camp, join our new tradition at Wine365: Try January! Pick out a wine from a new producer, country, appellation, or grape that you’ve never tried before and expand your tasting repertoire.
Here’s what we’ve got on our wine rack this month.
6 Wines for Try January (instead of Dry January)
Bubbles from Another Region: Alta Vista Brut Nature
Are you bubbled out yet? Neither are we. Most sparkling wine on our holiday tables comes from France or Italy as Champagne or Prosecco, but sparkling wines are made in every winemaking region in the world. Check Argentina off your list with this 100% Chardonnay Blanc de Blancs (“white of whites,” or made exclusively from white-skinned grapes). Crisp and dry with no dosage, it is from Mendoza and made in the Charmat method, like most Prosecco, with notes of peaches and fresh herbs. Great with nuts and cheese.
Bubbles of Another Color: Medici Ermete Concerto Organic Lambrusco Reggiano DOC 2020
Speaking of sparkling, Lambrusco should top anyone’s Try January list. Your taste buds will dance with delight after sipping Medici Ermete’s Concerto, the first of its kind: a single-vineyard vintage Lambrusco. Concerto has won both Italy’s prestigious Tre Bicchieri award for 12 years running and our hearts. It’s dry, red, bubbly, with bright flavors of strawberry and raspberry. It’s a winning pick for your next Italian night, too, because it pairs so well with cured meats, cheeses, and pastas.
Break free from your comfort zone: Rebellious Red Blend
Do you tend to drink varietal wines? If you’ve uttered phrases like, “I only drink Cabernet Sauvignon,” or “Pinot Noir is my go-to,” then branch out a little and rebel against your comfort zone. Some of the greatest wines in the world are red blends, like Bordeaux, so why not try a California red blend? This rich red wine is a mix of grapes from northern CA that the winemaker deems will create the best, most delicious and balanced blend: Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Petit Syrah, and Syrah all make the list. Throw caution to the wind and get into the red blend game this month.
Dive a little deeper: Norton Malbec Reserva
Don’t let Malbec pass you by this Try January. While popular, it’s still not the first varietal wine that comes to many people’s lips when you ask them what their favorite red wine is. Maybe it should be: juicy, deep fruit flavors of blackberry, blueberry, pomegranate, and black cherry, with notes of mocha and coffee and leather—this is exactly what I’d like to sip on a cold January night. I want to get to know Malbec this year, and Try January is the month to start.
Go beyond the bottle: Canned Port cocktails
Yes, we’re going the canned route for January. Canned wine and cocktails will only continue to grow in popularity, so might as well dip into the fray and figure out your favorite. Try both of these by Taylor Faldgate: Croft Pink & Tonic and Chip Dry & Tonic. Fizzy, refreshing, light in alcohol, low in sugar, made with real Port wine and a proprietary tonic—what’s not to love? I’ll admit I’ll be “trying” these all month long.
Choose something you normally wouldn’t: Tutto Mio canned wine
Here’s one more canned wine for good measure. This is a frizzante red wine from Emilia Romagna, land of Lambrusco—they know how to make their red bubbles sparkle. This is a semi-sweet wine and hence not something I’d normally pick up, but that is exactly why I’m including it in my Try January line-up. It’s refreshing, light in alcohol, and pairs exceptionally well with spicy Asian cuisine (did I mention I’m in Flushing, Queens, the Asian food mecca?) as well as dessert. Oh, and it makes for excellent cocktails and sangria.