Having Fun With Wine Analogs

Free your palate with this guide to wines similar to your favorites


Pinot Grigio

There’s a litany of options that you will find as enjoyable—if not more so—as this crisp, refreshing go-to wine. Take albariño. Its peach and apricot flavors framed by a vibrant acidity are sure to make this Spanish white a new favorite. You’ll also find a lot to like in a glass of assyrtiko from Greece, trebbiano from Italy or pinot gris from Oregon (it’s the same grape, just in a different language.)

Buy It: Burgans Albariño 2014, $16, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, KhourysFineWine.com.


Depending on what style of chardonnay hits your hot button, there’s a whole universe available for you to try. Should you prefer a lighter style, keep on the lookout for Northern Italian pinot bianco, Alsatian pinot blanc or Fiano di Avellino from the South of Italy. If a fuller style of chardonnay is your thing, give viognier a whirl. Its generous, ripe orchard fruit supported by a rich texture make it a great fruit-forward alternative.

Buy It: Opolo Viognier 2013, $25, Valley Cheese & Wine, ValleyCheeseAndWine.com.

Sauvignon Blanc

While its verdant aromas are distinctive, they aren’t entirely unique. If you find yourself drawn to the “green” side (aromas of bell pepper or fresh-cut grass), then you may find a new best friend in grüner veltliner from Austria because of its herbaceous edge. If it’s sauvignon blanc’s aromatic pungency that you prefer, your best bets include vermentino from Sardinia, verdejo from Spain or torrontés from Argentina.

Buy It: Hermann Moser Grüner Veltliner 2011, $30, Marché Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Shop, MarcheBacchus.com.

Pinot Noir

The most luscious of lighter red wines has more than a few kissing cousins out there for you to enjoy. Gamay—typically bottled as Beaujolais and also from France’s Burgundy region—is an excellent alternative that displays similar red fruit flavors and softness on the palate. Barbera d’Alba from Italy, grenache from France and mencía from Spain all rank as reasonable options thanks to their food-friendly combination of bright acid and supple tannins. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting a more powerful, structured version of pinot noir, look for nebbiolo-based wines such as Barolo and Barbaresco—you may never go back.

Buy It: Dufaitre Beaujolais Village 2013, $24, Valley Cheese & Wine, ValleyCheeseAndWine.com.


The plushness and ripe red fruit that make merlot so pleasant can be found elsewhere as well. Carménère from Chile is so similar in fact that prior to DNA testing many winemakers thought that they were growing merlot. You’ll find that malbec from Argentina features a comparable set of flavors and textures, as does some tempranillo from Spain. Similarly, look to the Northeast of Italy for wines based on pignolo and marzemino for slightly herbal, plummy goodness.

Buy It: Capataz Malbec 2012, $35, Marché Bacchus French Bistro & Wine Shop, MarcheBacchus.com.


With red raspberry and black pepper flavors varying in weight from light bistro-style wine to a rich warm pie filling, zinfandel’s comparable wines vary in concentration. Italy’s Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, teroldego and primitivo all provide an equivalent drinking experience, the latter actually being a clone of zinfandel. For medium-bodied parallels, forage for Valpolicella Ripasso or grenache-based wines from France, such as Châteauneuf du Pape. And at the far end of the spectrum, track down Amarone della Valpolicella for its roundness and mouth-blanketing potency.

Buy It: Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2010, $15, Total Wine, TotalWine.com.

Cabernet Sauvignon

The most ubiquitous of wines has plenty of competition in the bold red category. Cabernet Franc—often unfairly maligned as “the Donnie Wahlberg of wines”—generally makes a wine that is more aromatic and less prone to over-concentration than its famous brother. Italy’s Sagrantino di Montefalco may be more difficult to find than Nero d’Avola from Sicily, but both grant black fruit, savory herbs and a firm structure that will make any cabernet sauvignon drinker feel right at home.

Buy It: D’Alexandria Nero d’Avola 2008, $15, Khoury’s Fine Wine & Spirits, KhourysFineWine.com


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