Thank you Chow posters for getting me out of my wine-rut!
It's been a great couple of weeks for trying new wines... My comfort zone has always been American, S. American, Austrailia/NZ - nothing wrong with those regions IMO, but I admit I've been kind of intimidated by the wines of Europe (okay other than Spain, I could make my way around those). I mean, those labels! Not so helpful if you don't know what you're looking for and don't speak the language (French, Italian, German, etc.).
Since I have seen so many posters rec Gruner V. I thought I'd give that a whirl first. Had some reservations about anything coming from Germany/Austria/Alsace based on memories of sickeningly sweet late harvest reislings I've been forced to drink at non-wino friends' houses. I was pleasantly surpised by the GV, and it's now on my regular rotation! Nice complexity and the minerality was more pronounced for me than, say, a NZ Sav Blanc (which I have found to be more citrusy).
Then I said, okay, let's try some lesser known Italian whites... Just say no to PG!! Several posters here made great suggestions and - although I literally had to take a post it note with me to the wine shop - I found two brand new varietals that I really liked and were under $15. So now I've got a feel for Soave Classico and Vernaccia (don't ask me to recall the Italian vineyard!) - again, I was surprised by the complexity of these whites and they completely erased the idea of thin, watery PG out of my head! Good call, can't wait to try the rest.
Throw in a Louis Latour ardeche vin d pays ("duet"), which was pretty decent but honeslty not my favorite - and I have a lot more confidence when looking for new wines! Oh, and I am not a white-only drinker - just found it easier to try some new things when staying in the same vein.
Cheers to expanding horizons!
For some interesting and delicious Italian whites, try some from Campania in southern region: while the noble red Aglianico grown there produces wines of great nobility, structure and heft, some feel the whites are even better. Falanghina, Fiano, and Greco di Tufo are wonderful, companionable whites that are easy to find in most shops. Another Italian region to consider is Sicily: Tasca d'Almerita Regaliali Bianco is a delightful, crisp and versatile white that usually retails for about $12-15. Also, the Cos wines from Siciliy, aged in amphora, are highly interesting and flavorful, both whites and reds. The Nero di Lupo (100% Nero d'Avola) is a great red, and the Rami (Insolia & Greganico) is an excellent white. These are a bit pricier though. So, so many great whites from Italy these days, don't know where to begin...
If you like red wines, now is the time to try out cru-Beaujolais from the 2009 vintage. Very easy drinkers, but also very expressive of terroir and great with food. Clos de la Roilette, Marcel Lapierre, Foillard, Brun, Chermette are names to look out for. And be sure you're selecting from the CRUS (Morgon, Fleurie, Moulin-a-vent, Brouilly, etc.), not a "Village" or simple "Beaujolais" (and, for crying out loud, not a frickin' nouveau). I bet you can find bottles at nearly the same price at that Latour VdP ... but so much tastier!
And you have non-wino friends who serve Riesling? Smart folks. Some of the best wine on the planet. Not yet at stratospheric prices, but people are discovering it. Dry, off-dry, sweet... the whole gamut. There is NOTHING WRONG with sweet wines. They can be just as sublime as they can be insipid... exactly like dry wines.