Many red wine drinkers are creatures of habit, sticking to things they know and things they like. Shiraz drinkers adore shiraz, cabernet people are similarly one-eyed, pinot-philes can't do without their regular dose of "pinosity". Fair enough, but the Australian wine scene today is as inventive as it's ever been, and exploring red wines that sit on the varietal fringe can be a very rewarding experience. Winemaking expertise with less mainstream red grape varieties is impressive, and the globalisation of wine know-how means that our wine menu need not be tied to the tried-and-true. Explore Italian stars such as nebbiolo and barbera, the Spanish varieties, or the wealth of other fascinating alternatives out there. You may be very pleasantly surprised.
Quin Wines Pyrenees Nebbiolo 2019, $38-$40
Typically pale in true varietal fashion, this Victorian nebbiolo has fragrant cherry, rose petal and foresty aromas. Medium bodied, it's savoury and persistent, with a well-measured underpinning of dry, balanced tannins. Screw cap; 14.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over five years.
Stockists include: Check via quinwines.com.au
David Hook Central Ranges Orange Barbera 2018, $33-$35
Piedmontese barbera from a cool corner of NSW. Savoury herbs, smokey deli meat and raspberry aromas lead through a balanced, middleweight, ripe palate of sustained flavour. Tangy with mouth-watering acidity. Screw cap; 13.5 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over three years.
Stockists include: Check via davidhookwines.com.au
Fat'n Skinny Picker's Choice Shiraz Tempranillo Barbera 2017, $19-$21
A savoury McLaren Vale blend with juicy berry aromas, hints of licorice and earth on the nose. Middling in body, it has straightforward flavours, easy texture, and balanced, powdery, dry tannins. Easy drinking. Screw cap; 14 per cent alcohol.
Ageing? Drink over two years.
Stockists include: Vine Providores, Redfern (NSW); Wine Republic, Fitzroy (Vic).