Off-the-beaten-path varieties plus food pairing suggestions
While a bottle can feel like a big commitment, a great wine by the glass allows you the opportunity to explore a new style. I’ve pulled together a list of stellar, off-the-beaten-wine-path glass pours to try from five of my favorite Denver restaurants this month.
These wines are excellent options for the final weeks of winter still ahead. All are layered, complex, and incredibly food-friendly, so I’ve also included a must-try dish to pair with each restaurant’s menu.
If you’re not super comfortable with wine lists, I hope this gives you an idea of what to expect so you can branch out into some fun new selections. Think of me as your secret weapon Sommelier as you sip your way around the city. Your palate will thank me!
Triennes Rosé at Guard & Grace
Whether you’re visiting Guard and Grace for lunch, happy hour, or easing your way into a multi-course dinner of surf ‘n’ turf, here’s a wine that fits it all. This iconic rosé is a classic French style created by two of Burgundy’s greatest names – Jacques Seysses, founder of Domaine Dujac, and Aubert de Villaine, co-owner of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.
If the pedigree of the wine isn’t enough to give it a try, its ability to pair seamlessly with every item on the menu at Guard and Grace ought to be. I appreciate versatility in wine and when it comes to food pairing, a rosé like this is hard to beat.
Organically-farmed fruit from the south of France is harvested at night to preserve freshness. The grapes are pressed after only a few hours of skin contact to produce the whisper-pink hue. The juice is fermented at low temperatures until dry to retain the aromatics.
Aromas of pink and red fruits pop from the glass. On the palate, the rosé is fresh and clean and more complex than your average pink wine. The flavors of raspberries and cream with a subtle floral note continue long into the finish.
Suggested Pairing: Try it with the Crispy Tuna Sushi with tuna, avocado, serrano pepper, yuzu kabayaki, and tempura sushi rice from Guard and Grace. The crunch on the rice, the freshness of the fish, and the heat of the serrano are a collision of flavor and texture. The wine brings you back to the baseline with its berry fruit profile and refreshing style.
La Ca’ Nova Barbera d’Alba at Restaurant Olivia
I’ve tasted the Barbaresco from this remarkable Italian producer in the past and let out a gasp of delight when I saw their Barbera available by the glass at Olivia. The winery is set in a farmhouse in the center of Barbaresco. This small-production, family-operated winery is dedicated to quality and sustainability in each wine they produce.
The Barbera is light to medium-bodied but can pair seamlessly with just about anything on the menu, a point Sommelier Rocco McKeel made as we tasted it together.
On the palate, you’ll taste notes of dark red fruit with just a puff of subtle smoke and leather. It’s rustic yet fresh, and delicious in every way from the start to its long-lasting finish.
Suggested Pairing: Resident and DiningOut Tastemaker Chef Ty Leon never fails to impress with his creative, delicious, and fully Instagrammable cuisine. Try this with his new pasta creation, Beet Mafaldine with Buffalo Ricotta, Pink Peppercorn, and Honey. The earthy flavor of the beets with the creamy, slightly salty cheese is outstanding with this Barbera.
Mercat Cava Brut Nature at Death & Company
Made using the same method as Champagne, this delicious sparkling wine comes from the Penedes region of Spain. A blend of traditional grapes of the area, the wine is light in color and relatively low in alcohol, making it an excellent choice to begin your evening.
You’ll taste subtle notes of nectarine citrus and stone fruits like apricot and peach. If you’re keeping an eye on your sugar intake, you’ll be pleased to know this wine contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per liter (a liter of Coke has 110 grams per liter, for comparison).
The acidity in the wine makes it a fine match with foods that have a fat component. The acid cuts through the fat and refreshes the palate with each sip.
Suggested Pairing: Try this with Death & Co.’s Chips & Dip appetizer served with crème fraîche, cola braised onion, and yukon gold potato chips for a salty, crispy, delicious snack. For something more substantial, go for the ultimate high-acid bubbly pairing and order the Buttermilk Fried Chicken served with hot honey and thyme.
Beaumont Chenin Blanc at Cholon
Chenin Blanc in this style is an excellent choice if you’re someone who enjoys the richness you find in an oaked Chardonnay but finds the heavy buttery notes overwhelming. This wine isn’t aged in oak at all but in stainless steel and concrete tanks. The weight and complexity come from the four months the wine spends aging in contact with the lees, or dead yeast cells, left behind by the fermentation.
The cool climate of the Bot River region of South Africa produces full-flavored grapes with an excellent acid structure which makes for delicious, food-friendly wines. The Beaumont Farm and Winery is the region’s oldest wine cellar and an icon of the area.
You’ll taste notes of pineapple and fresh citrus on the palate with a pleasant mineral note. It’s elegant and complex and just slightly creamy on the palate.
Suggested Pairing: If you haven’t tried the French Onion Soup Dumplings at ChoLon yet, you’re missing out. These little pockets of joy produce a flavor frenzy in your mouth. The acid and fruit in the wine provide a perfect contrast as you taste back and forth.
J. Bouchon Pais Salvaje at Lucina Eatery
If you love Pinot Noir and earthy, lighter-bodied red wines, you’ll love this delicious wine made of the wild Pais grape of Chile’s Maule Valley located south of Santiago.
The family-operated J. Bouchon winery has been producing premium wines in this region for decades. Their treatment of the wild, or “salvaje” Pais grape in this wine is as authentic as the cuisine created in Lucina’s kitchen. Both the wine and the food are an homage to the places that inspire them.
This remarkable natural vineyard is the result of local birds transferring the seeds to a forest on the property from a cultivated vineyard where the vines climb the trees to reach the sunny canopy above. The 100% organic fruit is meticulously harvested by hand using a ladder.
You’ll taste bright, punchy red fruit flavors of strawberries and cherry with a slightly floral and earthy profile.
Suggested Pairing: Try it with Lucina’s Churrasco y Papas – a grilled flank steak with fries and chimichurri sauce. Yum.