During a #winechat discussion last week about local wine, one of the questions I got was how regional wine producers could make it easier for Americans to drink wine that wasn’t called chardonnay, cabernet, and merlot. Many regional wines are made with grapes most consumers aren’t familiar with, like blanc du bois, viognier and tempranillo; hence, they’re reluctant to try them.
My suggestion: Don’t call the wines by their varietal name, which too many wineries feel compelled to do for reasons I’ve never been able to figure out. Call them something fun or interesting or inventive.
Case in point is the El Posadero ($10, purchased, available at Central Market), a tempranillo blend that is more or less the Spanish equivalent of U.S. regional wine. It comes from a less respected region around Madrid, and not the better known tempranillo appellations of Rioja or Ribera del Duero. This means the wine starts out with an image problem, especially for U.S. consumers. Calling it El Posadero goes a long way towards fixing that. Even if you don’t know what El Posadero means (innkeeper, actually, and there’s a picture of an inn on the label), it sounds Spanish and intriguing.
And it’s a pretty nifty wine, too. The El Posadero is blended with syrah, but doesn’t have as much fruit as I thought it would (and is actually a little old-fashioned in spirit). Look for an almost spicy wine with some cherry fruit and lots of acidity — practically sour cherry tart. It needs food, like smoked chicken or beef, but that’s part of the appeal of the wine.