CNN Eatocracy "5 Wines you should be drinking"
June 2011

5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

"Ordering a bottle of Pinot Grigio is like ordering salmon at a four-star restaurant - not entirely bad, but something more appropriate for your grandmother," asserts Michael Madrigale, the head sommelier at Bar Boulud and Boulud Sud in New York City.

When it comes to wine lists, Pinot Grigio is the frontrunner in the lineup of usual suspects - and it's easy and part of human nature to flock toward what you know and recognize.

Sure, there's no shame in the Pinot Grigio game - a nice glass of it can be just as delightful as a glass of Vitovska Grganja - but there are plenty of grapes out there to explore that are equally as available.

Sometimes what you're really looking for has been right in front of you all along.

Five Wines You Should Be Drinking Instead of Pinot Grigio: Michael Madrigale

1. Riesling
"Aromatic and noble, Riesling is God's gift to wine lovers. It's fresh and zippy enough to enjoy on the patio but it also has a brooding, intellectual edge. It's a story teller changing its narrative depending on where and how it's grown.

The best versions never see an oak barrel and come from Germany, Austria and France's Alsace region. Honorable mention to Australia's Clare Valley."

2. Beaujolais
"There is no better red wine value on the planet than Beaujolais. The main reason for this is that the region's best wines have a hard time being sold due to the unfair association with the strawberry water that comes in the flower adorned bottles that your Uncle Leo brings over for Thanksgiving dinner.

The best wines come from the 10 'Crus' that are located in the northern part of the region where there is a high concentration rugged, granite soils. At best, Beaujolais is a round and juicy wine with wild strawberry and raspberry flavors and with the best ones, you can even taste granite."

3. Greek wines
"Greek wines get no respect. Nearly every time I suggest one to a guest at the restaurant, they cringe as if I've stepped on their foot.

The dreaded reputation of Retsina (wine made with pine resin that was popular in the US in the 70s and 80s) are the main root of the bad image of Greek wines. But that works just fine as it keeps the prices low relative to the quality.

Whites are the star of the show in Greece with Assyrtiko from the Island of Santorini being its headliner. It's peachy and salty and you can taste the volcano smoke from the soil which make it a dazzling pairing with charred octopus.

Also, Moschofilero from the Peleponesse is aromatic and fresh and shouldn't cost more than $15 in a wine shop."

4. Chablis
"No, not the stuff in jugs at the liquor store. Real Chablis from the eponymous village in France is one of the great examples of 'terroir' in the world.

65 million years ago the region was underwater and over time the deposit of minerals, fossilized oysters and sea urchins created a ridge of limestone and chalk that give the wines a truly unique stony and saline character.

To this day it is considered the best value in Burgundy and there is truly nothing on this green earth that goes better with freshly shucked oysters."

5. Sherry
"You may think Sherry is only for people with monocles and pipes who are solving mysteries in old London town, but in reality it's fantastic wine for all occasions. It originates from Andulucia, Spain and can be made in numerous styles.

Fino and Manzanilla Sherries are dry, crisp and somewhat nutty which make them perfect for cocktail hour with a side of Marcona almonds or olives.

Amontillado and Oloroso Sherries are dry as well but are moving into a darker, richer and more oxidized style that demand heaver food like jamón ibérico or bacon-wrapped dates.

And finally, Pedro Ximénez Sherries are deep and sweet with a syrup like consistency that are great dessert wines to pair with chocolate cake."

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