This holiday season we want to help you discover and present new wine varieties; we think of them as unexpected wines from unexpected places. An unexpected wine is one that may be related to another style you enjoy but brings something new to the wine-drinking experience. It could even be a magical find, perhaps made with a rare grape. Maybe it's a wine that does a bit of aspirational traveling by way of the bottle. To help guide us through some lovely and unexpected wines, we turned to wine expert Madeline Puckette, creator/author of the Wine Folly website and Wine Folly: The Master Guide. She gave us the list below. Listen to Puckette's Splendid Table Selects interview with Managing Producer to learn more about these wines and food pairing suggestions.


Style: Xinomavro

Somewhat difficult to pronounce but completely easy to enjoy, Xinomavro is similar to Barolo - with a much more approachable price tag. This wine has predominantly red fruit flavors - think rich raspberry sauce - spice flavors of anise and allspice, possibly some floral notes. You can find it in both red and rosé styles.

  • Kir-Yianni Estate - $23
  • Diamantakos - $25
  • Gaia - $26
  • Vassaltis - $27


Style: Zweigelt

This Thanksgiving, put down the Pinot Noir and grab a Zweigelt. Zweigelt is a Pinot descendant and the most planted variety in Austria. It produces a lighter-bodied fruit-driven wine with notes of cherries, black pepper, and chocolate. It can be served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

  • Weingut Gernot and Heike Heinrick - under $20
  • Weingut Schloss Gobelsburg - $15 

Wine FollyMadeline Puckette wrote Wine Folly: The Master Guide with Justin Hammack. 
Photo Provided by Wine Folly


Style: Tannat

This grape, historically grown in South West France, is now considered the national grape of Uruguay. Tannat has the highest polyphenols of all red wines. It is very tannic with notes of black plum, licorice, cardamom, and smoke.

South Africa

Style: Méthode Cap Classique

Looking for a new bubbly sparkler? Try Méthode Cap Classique; the South African term indicates sparkling wine made in the traditional method - the same way French Champagne is made - with a secondary fermentation that takes place inside the bottle. Expect a light, dry wine with high acidity and flavors of lemon, white cherry, and ginger.