Spirits

‘But I Don’t Like Texas Wine’, Ever Heard This?

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How many times have you heard that statement from someone who enjoys wine? I have heard it more than once, but when that person learns more about Texas wine and actually tries some, their opinion is quickly changed.

That statement may come from a couple reasons. One reason may be that person just didn’t try good Texas wine. Yes, it happens. Just like not all California wine is good. This is true for every wine producing country and state (did you know all 50 states have at least one winery?).

Another reason could be the wine tasted is not necessarily the best wine for Texas. I do not have to tell you that it is hot in the Texas Hill Country. That limits the varieties of grapes that grow well here. Other parts of Texas, like the Texas High Plains near Lubbock, do have more of a temperature variance during the day called a diurnal temperature variation. It may be hot during the day in the High Plains, but it gets cooler at night, and that’s what grapes love. It does not get that cool during the summer in the Hill Country and that explains why a lot of the Vitis vinifera grapes—grapes like Chardonnay, Merlot, and Pinot Noir—grow best in the High Plains. There are some vineyards in the Hill Country that do grow vinifera grapes and do it well though.

When you compare a wine like Cabernet Sauvignon from California and one from Texas, you will most likely see there is a different taste. A lot of that has to do with the grapes. California has excellent grape growing temperatures and that is why some wine like Cabernet Sauvignon may taste better from California. Other types of wine that follow this same pattern are Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, and Riesling for example. It does not mean Texas cannot grow and make a good Chardonnay, but there are fewer wineries attempting to do so.

Instead, Texas wineries and grape growers look at what grapes grow well in Texas and then perfect that style of wine. They do that by looking at other hot regions in the world such as Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain. You then find great Texas wines being made from Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvèdre which are grown in the Mediterranean area of France. One of the arguably best red wines in Texas is Tempranillo which is commonly associated with Spain. Looking at white wines, you need to look at wines such as Roussanne, Viognier, Albariño, and Vermentino.

One cannot overlook American hybrid grapes grown in Texas like Blanc du Bois and Black Spanish (Lenoir). Black Spanish is not commonly fond of as a dry wine, but some fantastic port-style wines are being made with the grape. Blanc du Bois is grown primarily in east Texas and the Gulf coast region and is becoming a very popular wine found in the Hill Country. Wineries are making dry, sweet, and even sparkling Blanc du Bois wines. The dry Blanc du Bois wines usually taste different between wineries and their winemakers, but sparkling Blanc du Bois wines are often very similar and very good.

There are many other wines being made in the Texas Hill Country that people may not have heard of but should not be overlooked. That is because Texas wineries are still experimenting with new grapes and wines to determine what does well in Texas. When the opportunity arises, do not pass up a Tannat, Sémillon, Carignan, Cinsaut, Touriga Nacional, or Montepulciano. Many other great Texas wines are being made from other grapes.

So the next time you hear someone say, “But I don’t like Texas wine,” you can educate them a little more and have them try wines from Texas that are growing and being made well in Texas.