V = White Wine Squared

By Zachary Mannheimer


As we near the colder months, people often forget about white wine and its versatility. At this time of year many shops and online stores are discounting whites as they may have a surplus. Here are two white grapes that are often overlooked, misunderstood, affordable and happen to both start with the letter “V.”

First, from Italy, a grape you may have heard of before: Vermentino. This grape is grown in two of Italy’s many regions, Tuscany and Sardinia, that little island just off the western shore of Italy below Corsica. I prefer Sardinian Vermentinos, and my favorite producer, Argiolas, happens to be one of the most famous on the island. Vermentino goes perfectly with any seafood dish, but, unlike most white grapes grown so close to the sea, this grape has only a slight salinity aspect. Lovers of Chardonnay will welcome Vermentino for a new change up, especially as Vermentino can stand up to some meatier, autumnal dishes featuring pork loin or chops, hearty chicken dishes and even some gamier items like lamb, particularly if served with white beans.

Our second “V” comes from Spain, and the region most people know and love for their red grape Tempranillo – Rioja. Tempranillo reigns supreme throughout Spain, and the well known Spanish white grape would qualify as Albarino in my book. For something off the beaten path, which always makes it an affordable reach, try some Viura. Viura is grown in central Spain, mostly in Rioja, and has a very distinct cashew and burnt walnut nose to it. I love Viura as a surprise for my guests: I promise they’ve never had anything quite like it. Often found in blends with Verdejo (Spain’s answer to Sauvignon Blanc) and Chardonnay, Viura can be found on its own where I believe it shines. Perfect as an aperitif with cheese, Marcona almonds and fruit, or with a pasta tossed in pesto, any nut-based dish pairs perfectly with Viura.


Zachary Mannheimer, dsm’s wine writer, is a restaurant sommelier who runs a wine course business called Flight School (www.FlightSchoolWine.com). He holds the wine-pairing course at homes, businesses or anywhere else the client prefers. Mannheimer, who also founded and currently serves as the executive director of The Des Moines Social Club (www.DesMoinesSocialClub.org), has worked for more than 17 years in the food service industry in New York City, London and Des Moines. He can be reached at zmannheimer@gmail.com.

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