How to Think Outside the Glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 11,784
    Andrew Stover, Wine Director at OYA Restaurant & Lounge in Washington, DC talks about how to think outside the glass of cabernet sauvignon and merlot.

    Andrew Stover

    Andrew Stover, a native of Grand Rapids, Michigan, moved to Washington, DC to attend The George Washington University with a focus in Marketing/Tourism & Hospitality Management. Stover also holds a Sommelier Diploma from the International Sommelier Guild and a Certified Specialist of Wine Certification from the Society of Wine Educators.

    Stover began his foray into wine by visiting local Virginia vineyards. Over the last 8 years, his love of wine has become an obsession and he has combined his love for travel and food by visiting wine regions in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, France, Canada and all over the US.

    Stover worked 2 years in the tasting room at Breaux Vineyards in Hillsboro, Virginia conducting wine tastings and tours in 2000-2002. He has consulted with Pintail Yachts in Annapolis on wine dinner cruises and conducts staff wine trainings with La Tasca Spanish Tapas Restaurant. In March of 2006, Stover was hired on as Wine Director and Sommelier for OYA Restaurant & Lounge, where he has revamped the entire wine program making it more food friendly and consumer driven.

    Stover has served 4 years on the Board of Directors for the Washington Area Concierge Association and 3 years as Chair of their annual Charity Gala: Bubbles on the Potomac, which is a sparkling wine tasting event aboard the Odyssey.

    Stover is also an accomplished writer and has published wine articles for Where Magazine, the Howard County Business Monthly and the Complete Event and Meeting Planner, a guide for local event and meeting planners, with tips on wine and food pairings for events. He also publishes a wine blog,

    Most recently, Stover has been hired to teach a food and wine pairing seminar at The George Washington University as part of the Event Management Certificate Program in the GW School of Business.

    Andrew Stover: Hi, I am Andrew from OYA Restaurant & Lounge in Washington DC, and today we are discussing tips from a sommelier. In this clip, I am going to be discussing with you how to think outside the glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. I love Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot but I feel like it s such a easy thing for people to come into the restaurant and order and there are so many exciting red wines out there these days, especially from places like Argentina, from Spain. Even things coming out of Australia and even right in our own backyard, other grapes that you may be haven t heard of, things like Cabernet Franc coming out of California or Syrah from Idaho. Some really exciting things that -- please look for them in your local stores and try them next time you are in the restaurant. So, let s see what we have got here. First, one of my favorite alternatives to Merlot is a Tempranillo. Tempranillo is a red grape, mostly cultivated in Spain in the Rioja region, but also grown in places like California and Argentina, right here. I have even seen some examples of it coming out of even here in Virginia. If you want to talk about local wines. It tends to be medium to full bodied, kind of spicy, sometimes has a floral characteristic, violet petals but lots of juicy, fruit, plums black cherries, often little bit of Cassis, and it s just an exciting wine as an alternative to Merlot. Another great alternative to Merlot is Grenache, you can find Grenache grown in the South of France, also all over Spain, this one happens to be from Spain. Also I have seen it coming out of Australia and California. Grenache is a very juicy, fruity red and this one is a great example of that. It s a 100% Grenache from Spain. Its called Via Borgia and it s juicy, lots of plum, black cherry, a hint of spice, great alternative to Merlot. Another alternative to Merlot is this very eclectic red from Austria and it is called St. Laurent, that s the grape, St. Laurent, native to Austria and this particular wine is a brand called Marc Aurel, and it s a very interesting wine, it actually kind of straddles travels in between Pinot Noir like flavors and Merlot. Its a very soft, very juicy, almost silky red, has a little bit of spice, lots of plum, black cherry and again a spicy characteristic and little bit of earthiness too. It s fairly easy to drink, medium bodied, great with anything that has mushrooms in it. This wine here has a very interesting story, this is a wine from Chile called Carmenere and Carmenere for the longest time was actually bottled and labeled as Merlot, because the grapes apparently look very similar, especially the leaves. It wasn t until an ampelographer realized that, Wait, this is not Merlot, this is actually the long last Carmenere, which actually hails from the Bordeaux region of France. But as on its own Carmenere makes them very soft, very juicy, luscious red, often with a velvety texture. Mostly grown in Chile, although, I have seen some Carmeneres coming out of Washington State, believe it or not, but look for a very distinct pepper aroma on these wines along with plum, black cherries, a little bit of cassis but, definitely, the most important flavor to look for is white pepper. Now, for those of you that are looking to try something that is big and robust as an alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon, here is a perfect alternative Malbec. Malbec is another of the lesser Bordeaux varietals, that you would find in Bordeaux France. This is something that made its way to Argentina and is now considered the Signature Red Wine from Argentina. This is from Mendoza, Argentina, which is the wine region, that abuts up to the Andes Mounatains and look for really big, rich, juicy, black fruit flavors, plums, cassis, a hint of spice and just an amazingly rich wine. Another alternative that some people really enjoy is Syrah and I didn t bring any Shiraz, Shiraz is another silent this type of wine from Australia. But I brought two Syrahs and this is a domestic Syrah from Idaho, not just for potatoes any more and over here I have a Syrah from the Rhone Valley, that is the traditional growing region for Syrah. And Syrah is a very interesting grape varietal. It s noted for having Blue Berry flavors often kind of a meaty, kind of a gamy, sometimes a leathery flavor and is often quiet full bodied. Actually both of these wines here happen to be quiet full-bodied. People who enjoy Cabernet would also enjoy these wines. Here s another Cabernet not Cabernet Sauvignon but Cabernet Franc. This happens to come from southern California, the Temecula Wine Valley, which is in between Los Angeles and San Diego. Cabernet Franc is distinguished by a very peppery, almost like a green Bell Pepper flavor. You can also find great examples of Cabernet Franc from Northern California as well as, here on the East Coast, New York, Virginia. There is also amazing Cabernet Franc that comes out of the Loire Valley in France.

    Things to note about these wines if you are looking for something a little more on the full bodied end, you would definitely want to go with something from a warmer region say like Southern California, as these wines tend to be more medium to full bodied with a very silky texture. Look for Black Cherry with the Bell Pepper flavors as well as plum and a little bit of cassis. Last but not the least, something very unusual and also a great alternative to Cabernet Sauvignon is Petite Syrah. Petite Syrah, I have only ever seen it come out of California. It s generally grown in the Central Valley. This one happens to come from Lodi, and it s an old wine. Petite Syrah, which again, old wine meaning the wines are older and producing less fruit but more concentrated fruit. So you tend to ot get richer more complex wines. These are definitely tooth-staining wines, big, rich, dense, lots of black fruit flavors, plum, cassis, black cherry. Just really amazingly big robust wines and should satisfy the Cabernet Sauvignon drinker. So hope you have enjoyed some of my suggestions on thinking outside the glass of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon but stay tuned. Next up, we are going to talk about how to really enjoy and appreciate Rosay wines.