This is a question that comes to every wine enthusiast at one point or another: what should I drink next?
You could always spend an hour slowly walking along the aisles of your local wine shop, seeing what catches your eye, what looks unfamiliar, perhaps even asking the cellarhand what they might recommend.
The obvious weakness here is that you might succumb to bias, no matter how slight, no matter how hard you try to be objective and claim to want to try “something new”. When making a decision becomes too difficult, it is always easier to fall back onto old favourites.
There’s nothing wrong with sticking to what you know, but eventually you’ll feel limited and want to explore greener pastures.
Thankfully, someone else has already done the hard work for you…
The Academic Approach
Whilst browsing various sites and studying various wine subjects I came across these little gems, and am ashamed I hadn’t found them sooner:
- CMS Probable List of Examinable White Grape Varieties
- CMS Probable List of Examinable Red Grape Varieties
The CMS is, of course, the Court of Master Sommeliers, with whom I passed their Certified Examination some time ago.
- Spain – Rías Baixas
- France – Chablis, Côte d’Or, Mâconnais
- USA – California (Carneros, Central Coast, Napa Valley, Russian River Valley, Sonoma Valley)
- Australia – Victoria, Padthaway, Adelaide Hills, Western Australia)
- Germany – Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, Nahe (Trocken, 1st Crus, QbA, Kabinett, Spätlese, Auslese)
- France – Alsace (Grand Cru, Vin d’Alsace)
- Austria – Kamptal, Kremstal, Wachau
- Australia – Clare Valley, Eden Valley (Dry Styles Only)
- France – Loire Valley (Central Vineyards), Bordeaux (Pessac-Léognan, Graves)
- USA – California (Napa / Sonoma – Oaked Styles Only)
- New Zealand – All Regions
Cabernet Sauvignon and Blends
- France – Bordeaux – Graves, Médoc (Margaux, Pauillac, Saint-Estèphe, Saint-Julien) (Bordeaux AOC to First Growth)
- Australia – Barossa Valley, Coonawarra, Margaret River, McLaren Vale)
- Chile – Central Valley – Curicó, Maipo, Maule, Rapel
- USA – California (All Napa, All Sonoma, Central Coast); Washington (Columbia Valley)
Grenache and Grenache-Based Blends
- Argentina – Mendoza
Merlot and Merlot-Based Blends
- France – Bordeaux (Pomerol, Saint-Émilion)
- USA – California (Napa Valley, Sonoma Valley); Washington (Columbia Valley)
- France – Burgundy (Côte d’Or)
- USA – California (Anderson Valley, Carneros, Central Coast, Sonoma Coast/Valley); Oregon (Willamette Valley)
- New Zealand – Central Otago, Marlborough, Martinborough
- Italy – Tuscany – Brunello di Montalcino, Chianti, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano (Classico, Riserva, Ruffina)
- France – Rhône Valley (Northern Rhône)
- Australia – South Australian, Victoria
- USA – California (Central Coast, Sonoma County); Washington (Columbia Valley)
Even if you aren’t committed to becoming a sommelier, both of the above lists provide a comprehensive coverage of wine regions and styles throughout the world. If I were you, I would print myself a copy and tick off each one as I taste through them.
Myself, I can see how much of the world of wine I have already experienced, and how much further I need to go.
If there is one criticism I might have, it’s that there’s a lack of guidance for exploring sparkling wines and rosé wines. I can only conclude that they do not want to make life too easy for us.
If you are interested in other CMS resources, check out the following link – https://www.mastersommeliers.org/resources
Read more: How Much Does A Sommelier Need To Know?