Hang out with sommeliers long enough and they’ll eventually expound on the need for acidity in wine to help it pair with food. But there are legions of drinkers who don’t want their wines sharp, or even crisp. So what if I told you there’s a grape that frequently presents as round and lush, but secretly carries a strain of acidity that makes it genius with food?
Well, meet chenin blanc, the wonder of the Loire and the backbone of South Africa. With such credentials you’d think it would be sweeping the New World, but you’d be wrong. In fact, in the Okanagan, only two main producers make it—but they both knock it out of the park. The first is Quails’ Gate, whose chenin has been a mainstay of best-buy lists for years (its price has crept up to $24 but it’s still a smoking deal). It’s a balanced take on the grape—not lush nor biting, but with gentle quince and lemon notes.
A step up is Road 13’s cult fave Sparkling Chenin ($40), the OG of Canadian chenin—their vines were planted in 1968—and, while the acidity is more front and centre, you’ll be too charmed by the notes of crisp pear drizzled with honey to notice.