“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

This system might work for Shakespeare, but it does not work for wine. Why?  Marketing.  Wine consumers young and old are identifying more with the wine varietal, the primary grape used in the production of the wine.  “Old world” wines, especially those from France tend to be identified by their region rather than their varietal, but with the emergence of “new world” wines from countries like Argentina and Australia into the market, even the French are adapting certain wine labels to the varietal naming system.

Although I have always found the varietal naming system very helpful, I did not realize until recently how it initially handicapped me in my discovery of wine.  Unlike Shakespeare I got caught up in the name – the name of the varietal.   Once I found a varietal I liked, it became my “go-to” and I never ventured much outside my comfort zone.   All of that changed on my first trip to Buenos Aires two years ago when I dared to venture outside my “go-to’s” and tried my first Argentine Malbec. .  I had never heard of the varietal Malbec before my visit, but since I was traveling I allowed my palette to venture as well.   I am glad I did, because I instantly had a new favorite!

This unforeseen discovery made me wonder what other varietals I might be missing.  In addition to Malbec, Argentina has many more varietals to offer including Bonarda, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Tempranillo, and Torrontés.  Yes, these grapes originally hail from other regions of the world, but the terroir of Argentina –high altitudes, dryer climate, and the runoff water from the Andes – creates an ideal climate for them to grow resulting in delicious wines.

The moral of the story – explore the world of wine!  The varietal naming system, although helpful, can make it is easy to stick with your “go-to’s”.  Attend a fun wine tasting in Buenos Aires and you may discover a new varietal or an old favorite from a new region of the world.  Maybe Shakespeare does have a point after all …