Beer & Wine Wine

The 6 Wine Styles to Know Right Now

Get to know your piquette from your pét-nat.

Trendy wines / Laura Sant

It can be difficult to keep up with the ever-changing world of wine. There are so many producers, grapes and regions to discover. And just when you think you’ve finally gotten a handle on your favorite bottles, a new vintage is released, and suddenly there’s a fresh set of wines to taste and learn about and sometimes entirely new categories and styles.

There’s no need to forgo your time-honored favorites. But for curious drinkers eager to experience it all, it can be fun and rewarding to get to know the latest trends. Maybe you’ve already hopped on the Beaujolais bandwagon, fallen down the natural wine rabbit hole or discovered the savory pleasures of orange wine and other Eastern European specialities. Or perhaps you’re just beginning to branch out. Either way, these half-dozen wine styles that the most in-the-know wine folks are currently loving might just introduce you to your newest wine obsession.

  • Alpine

    alpine wine / Laura Sant

    Wines from the mountainous alpine regions of Europe, such as France’s Jura and Savoie and parts of Austria, Germany, northern Italy, Slovenia and Switzerland, are all the rage. These areas tend to produce high-acid whites with plenty of texture as well as light-bodied reds that are earthy and spicy. Those appealing characteristics result from long days of abundant sunshine that allow grapes to achieve optimal flavor development in tandem with high-elevation vineyard sites where cool temperatures help preserve freshness in the wines.

    Bottle to try: 2016 Domaine André et Mireille Tissot Savagnin Arbois (Jura, France, $56)
    Despite the similar-sounding names, Jura’s signature variety, savagnin, has nothing to do with sauvignon blanc. The savory, weighty wines bear more resemblance to chardonnay, a frequent blending partner for the grape. Tissot’s powerful, complex bottling is a worthwhile splurge, with intentional oxidation lending an enticing nutty character to the wine’s rich yellow apple, stone fruit and honey notes.

  • Basque Cider

    Basque cider / Laura Sant

    While not a wine, Basque cider is what many wine lovers are drinking these days when they want to take a quick break from grapes. Unlike the semisweet hard ciders often found on grocery store shelves, these tart and earthy Spanish specialties are piercingly dry, with funky flavors that appeal particularly to sour-beer drinkers or fans of fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha. If you’re feeling daring, serve these ciders the way they do in the Basque region to create maximum froth: Start low and raise the bottle higher and higher above the glass as you pour.

    Bottle to try: Isastegi Sagardo (Basque Region, Spain, $8) 
    One of the most classic examples of Basque cider, Isastegi is wild and tangy, tasting of fresh apples and cider vinegar. Notes of green olive brine, yeast and wet-stone minerality add intriguing character to this invigorating mouth-puckering beverage that’s perfect on hot days. 

  • Chillable Reds

    Chillable red wine / Laura Sant

    For those who can’t get enough Beaujolais, there’s a whole new world of light, vibrant reds that are meant to serve chilled. Grapes such as blaufränkisch, cabernet franc, gamay and pinot noir, which tend to be high in acidity and low in alcohol, are perfectly suited for this trend, which is especially popular among natural winemakers in California and Oregon. Often, whole berries are fermented for this style to produce an especially juicy, chuggable character, which wine industry insiders refer to as glou glou (French for “glug glug”).

    Bottle to try: 2019 Kivelstadt Cellars KC Labs Syrah (Mendocino, California, $27) 
    A punch bowl of fruit flavors—cherry, plum, boysenberry and more—gets a piquant boost from subtle hints of spice and violets. Whole-cluster fermentation makes this straightforward, fresh red much lighter and juicier than your average syrah. It’s hard to imagine a better picnic wine.

  • Fruit-Grape Blends

    Fruit-grape blend wine / Laura Sant

    This quirky new category just might be one of the most exciting trends in wine today. Producers all over the globe are experimenting with combining grapes and other fruit, like apples, pears and plums, to make a sort of mashup between wine and cider. The fruits can be fermented together or blended later in the process to create these dry thirst-quenching hybrids, but they all have one thing in common: They’re incredibly delicious, like a grown-up juice box.

    Bottle to try: Scar of the Sea Mondeuse Coferment (California, $25) 
    Barrel-aged apple cider is fermented with the skins of the mondeuse grapes, a spicy berry-scented red variety native to the Jura region of France, to craft this playful yet complex blend. Lavender, juniper, apple blossom and black-pepper notes add plenty of character to the bright blackberry and plum fruit.

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  • Pét-Nat

    Pet-Nat / Laura Sant

    Pét-nat is the ultimate party wine, and lately it seems to be everywhere. But pét-nats aren’t actually new; they predate the existence of Champagne. Unlike Champagne, pét-nat finishes fermenting in the bottle rather than undergoing a second round, leaving a tiny bit of residual sugar behind. Lively, frothy and crisp, pét-nat (short for pétillant-naturel) comes in red, white, rosé and orange varieties and can usually be identified by its cloudy appearance and crown-cap seal. It’s typically a bit lower in alcohol than other sparkling wines, with finer bubbles and delightful freshness.

    Bottle to try: 2019 Jousset Pétillant Naturel Rosé Éxilé (Loire, France, $25) 
    This juicy, bright Loire Valley pét-nat is made from 100% gamay, which you may recognize as the grape of Beaujolais. Tart red cherry and strawberry fruit goes down so easy, with bursts of grapefruit, melon and plum, in this pretty, pink crowd-pleaser.

  • Piquette

    Piquette / Laura Sant

    Another wine-adjacent drink that’s suddenly everywhere but not actually new, piquette uses a clever “upcycling” technique to offer a light easy-drinking experience that’s less likely to leave you with a hangover. Named for the French word for “prickle,” this fizzy beverage dates back to ancient Greek and Roman times. More of a wine byproduct than actual wine, piquette is made by adding water to grape pomace (leftover skins, seeds and pips) after the standard winemaking process, allowing any remaining sugar to referment and create low-key booze and bubbles.

    Bottle to try: Old Westminster Skin Contact Piquette (Maryland, USA, $10) 
    What’s more fun than wine in a can? This newfangled wine spritzer, made from a blend of white grapes that undergo skin contact, tastes like freshly squeezed citrus, gummy bears and herbs. At just 6% ABV, you can sip it all day, and all summer, long. Don’t take piquette too seriously—just enjoy it!