10 Unusual Red Wine Grapes You Must Try

Share this post:

Discover unique red wine grapes! Forget the popular ones; we’re all about the unusual. Explore lesser-known varieties that aren’t on your radar yet. The best part? We’ve sourced these amazing wines in Mexico. Pick your favorite, order, and enjoy a unique new wine this weekend!

Unusual red wine grapes to try if you love Pinot Noir wines

unusual red wine grapes similar to pinot noir

Pinot Noir is our favorite red wine grape. For that reason, the three grapes I’ll suggest below were pleasant surprises for me. They have all the charm of Pinot Noir, yet each has its unique twist. If you love Pinot Noir wines, it’s time to explore the following grapes:

  • Frappato
  • Mencía
  • Nerello Mascalese
  • Garnacha

Frappato Wines

Frappato wines have a feminine vibe with their elegance, finesse, and floral notes. They’re truly a joy to drink!

Frappato is a native grape from Sicily, and even nowadays, about 90% of all Frappato wines are produced in that area. Light to medium-bodied and with a vibrant ruby color, these wines have bright acidity, offering a refreshing and lively palate. 

Renowned for their highly aromatic profile, Frappato wines typically have notes of red berries, cherries, and delicate floral undertones.

Garnacha Wines

Lately, we have been utterly obsessed with Spanish Garnacha wines, and we can’t wait to get you in the same boat! 

You’ve likely tried Garnacha (or Grenache) wines before, as this grape is commonly found in red wine blends from the Rhône Valley, such as Cotes-du-Rhone and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, in most rosés from Provence, and in the popular GSM blends from California. 

When included in blends, Grenache adds a delightful touch of fruit, elevating the wine’s overall smoothness and roundness. Can you see where we’re headed with this? 

Monovarietal Garnacha wines, usually produced in Spain, are known first and foremost for their velvety texture and an abundance of juicy, juicy red fruit on the palate. They’re usually medium-bodied and finish with a tingle of spice on the palate.

Mencía Wines

Mencía wines are some of the most versatile, crowd-pleasing, and food-friendly red wines out there! Medium body, with vibrant acidity, diverse red berries and cherries flavors, and smooth texture.

The grape is native from Bierzo in Spain, and a staple of that region.

You can’t go wrong with a Mencía wine – they’re that good!

Nerello Mascalese Wines

Nerello Mascalese is planted mostly in Sicily on the foothills of Mt. Etna. When we first tried Nerello Mascalese wines, we were surprised by the super pale color (almost translucid), rich savory flavor, and how much complexity it packs in a relatively light wine. 

If Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon had a baby, it would undoubtedly be Nerello Mascalese!

These wines possess the light body of Pinot Noir along with a distinctive fusion of mineral notes and red fruit flavors, while also exhibiting the higher alcohol content and grippy tannins characteristic of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Exotic red wine grapes to try if you love Syrah wines

unusual red wine grapes similar to syrah

If you love Syrah wines (and let’s be real, what’s not to love there?!?), you probably look for full-body, intense dark fruit flavor, and of course some spiciness in your wines. Wines produced with these unusual red wine grapes give you all that and then some more: 

  • Teroldego
  • Bonarda
  • Nero d’Avola

Teroldego (tehr-AWL-deh-go) Wines

When it comes to Teroldego, one iconic producer comes to mind: Elisabetta Foradori. She single-handedly put this grape, which is indigenous to the Trentino area in Italy, on the world map. Elisabetta’s efforts to promote the growth of this varietal led to the propagation of many new clones, ensuring its survival and the production of exceptional wines.

Teroldego wines are renowned for their deep, dark ruby color, with flavors and aromas of red cherry, black fruit, ink, herbs, and subtle hints of tar when mature. The tannins are soft, and the acidity falls within the medium to high range.

What’s more, they offer incredible value! We always tell our clients that any Cabernet Sauvignon that offers the same quality of Foradori Teroldego would cost $100 or more per bottle.

Bonarda Wines

Bonarda is the other Argentinian red wine grape, super outshined by the powerful Argentinian Malbec. However, Bonarda wines have tons of character, and deserve a moment to shine! 

Bonarda wines have a deep purple color and aromas of red fruit, including cherries and plums, along with hints of cloves. It is dry, with low tannins and soft acidity, usually medium to full-body.

One important note: most Bonarda wines are produced without any oak, using other options such as stainless steel tanks, concrete eggs (a very common technique in Argentina), or even amphorae to age the wine. 

Nero d’Avola Wines

Nero d’Avola, the most iconic Sicilian grape! It sounds cheesy, but these wines really feel like Sicily in a glass. Nero d’Avola wines give you ripe dark red fruit, grippy tannins, some balsamic / olive, and lovely spice notes. 

Some more affordable, table wines produced with Nero d’Avola can show a lighter body, but most wines produced for aging and with a more serious approach will have full-body and easily 15-20 years of aging potential. 

Unique red wine grapes to try if you love Merlot wines

unusual red wine grapes similar to merlot

Do you remember the one line in the movie ‘Sideways’ that killed Merlot sales for decades? If you don’t, it was the iconic line, ‘I’m not drinking any fucking Merlot!’ This line became a cultural reference and kept Merlot in the doghouse for years to come.

Pop culture references aside, Merlot wines offer a great value, well-balanced acidity, and tannin structure that makes them approachable and versatile. If you enjoy Merlot, these are other grapes you should explore: 

  • Bobal
  • Zweigelt
  • Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Bobal Wines

Bobal is Spain’s 3rd most widely grown wine grape, although you wouldn’t necessarily know that given that the wines it produces are still not that well known. It’s a shame because monovarietal Bobal wines are approachable and easy-drinking – not to mention, affordable too! 

In terms of flavors, they have lots of red fruit like raspberry and cherry, some floral elements like violets, and sometimes even a touch of chocolate. Bobal grapes produce beautiful, rounded red wines that are full of flavor but never too heavy.

Zweigelt (TSVEYE-gəlt) Wines

Zwiegelt grape is a native Austrian grape, and yes – it’s impossible to pronounce, so don’t feel bad about it. 

And don’t let the difficult name stop you from trying it! Zweigelt is a fun grape to explore for versatile and approachable wines that can be paired with most comfort dishes, and can usually be served a little chilled. 

The vast majority of Zweigelt wines can be classified as easy-drinking, with bright acidity, red fruit flavors, subtle earthiness, a hint of pepper and cinnamon, and soft tannins.

Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Montepulciano is our ultimate pizza wine, we always have a bottle around, and it should definitely be on your rotation of weekday dinner wines too! 

For the most part, Montepulciano wines are medium-bodied with soft tannins, high acidity, and juicy, fruit flavors – but still, it’s a dry wine, so the fruit flavors do not equal sweetness. It’s the perfect pairing with pizza, spaghetti bolognese, and burgers.

bottom blog hero