How many times have you walked into a wine store, been intrigued by something you’d never heard of before then bypassed it in favor of the tried and true? As a wine writer, I am perpetually taking a flier on an obscure grape or unfamiliar wine region. Sometimes, I make a great discovery. And sometimes, I pour it down the sink.
Savour Wine & Cheese in Gloucester is filled with obscure grapes—and great discoveries. But co-owner Kathleen Erickson Morgan knows that few people will walk into her shop seeking, say, a wine made from Portuguese Castelao grapes. To help customers step away from the big name chardonnay, the shop allows sampling of 20 wines daily, using Napa Technologies dispensing machines. These machines, more often found at high-end restaurants, keep bottles of wine fresh long after opening and allow patrons to serve themselves one-ounce pours of whatever strikes their fancy. In addition to encouraging adventurous tasters to try something new, customers can explore the differences between a $10 merlot and a $30 merlot, or compare similar grapes grown in different regions.
Morgan personally tastes every wine that is offered in her shop—and usually knows a fascinating backstory about the producer or the region. While the wines available to taste change frequently, on a recent visit, I sampled a Vouvray from Château de Goulaine ($13.99), perhaps the oldest wine producer still in existence. Off dry, with some hints of honey and apricot, it would be an enjoyable picnic wine. Always drawn to the unfamiliar, I also tried a rosé from Greece called Gaia 14-18h, made from Agiorgitiko grapes on the Peloponnese peninsula. Morgan explained that the unusual name refers to the hours spent fermenting with the skins, just enough to give it a beautiful rose-coral color. The wine is lovely—crisp and dry, with a cherry nose—and a little unusual. It’s a wine to sip and think about. savourwineandcheese.com