Let’s dump some of our old standbys and branch out in 2013. With so many countries, grapes, and styles of wine out there, we could all use some fresh choices and places to discover them. I found Elevated Beer Wine Spirits, a new shop with new wines, to help me. Elevated Beer Wine Spirits, 4135 Hiawatha Ave., Mpls., 612-208-0973, elevatedbws.com
JJ Vincent Cremant Brut NV (Burgundy, France)
Grape: 100 percent chardonnay
Cremant, a sparkling wine made in France but outside of Champagne, is created using the same process as Champagne but has a more affordable price. It’s creamy with that fresh-baked bread smell on the nose. Toast the New Year with something you can drink all year round.
E–1 Espana Orin Swift by Dave Phinney 2011 (Spain)
Grape: garnacha (grenache), tempranillo, and carinena (carigan)
This Spanish red blend is full-bodied, rich, and PURPLE. You’ll enjoy great blackberry fruit and a bit of spicy cedar on the finish. It won’t replace Côtes du Rhône or your favorite Oregon pinot noir, but it will be a nice addition to your lineup.
Villa di Capezzana 2007 (Carmignano, Italy)
Grape: 80 percent sangiovese, 20 percent cabernet sauvignon
While tasting this wine, all I could think of was a fat rib-eye steak. A change of pace for you big Napa cab boys (and girls), this affordable Super Tuscan has black and blue berry fruit, nutmeg spice, and is a bit leathery on the nose. Big and full-bodied, it will age for a while.
Pares Balta Blanc de Pacs 2011 (Penedes, Spain)
Grape: 45 percent parellad, 34 percent macabeu, 21 percent xarello
I can’t pronounce the grapes in this one, and it doesn’t matter. It’s delicious. This fun white blend from Spain, with pear and apple notes and clean lemony acid, is something for New Zealand sauv blanc fans to try this year. This still wine is made from the grapes that are most often used in cava.
Bill Coy runs Vintage U, which organizes wine tastings, classes, and events for corporate groups, wine enthusiasts, and the general public. Reach him at VintageU@msn.com.