Here are some ideas for wines that could help break you out of a rut.

I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but I think it needs to be said: Drinking wine can be very, very boring. Sometimes it gets so boring that I swear I’m going to beg off drinking it. I can almost hear the mumbling: “Boo hoo! The poor wine director has to consume too much wine!”

But before you start tossing stones, take a quick scan of yourselves. Haven’t you ever experienced boredom when it comes to wine? Haven’t you ever made your way to the fridge to pop a bottle, opened it, taken a sip and found yourself thinking, “This again?” Sigh.

This is when wine goes from being familiar to being mind-numbingly boring. I’ve got nothing against the familiar. Familiar can be lovely. The familiar feeling of warm water pouring out of my shower head on a cold winter morning. Love it. The familiar greeting my family gives me when I walk in the door after being away. Heartwarming. The familiar taste of my favorite food. Great. Familiar can be positive or negative. When it goes negative, it becomes boredom. Vampire-like, soul-sucking boredom. You’ve probably experienced it in your own life – when your daily routine goes from pleasantly familiar to suffocating.

If all my years of drinking wine have taught me anything about getting out of a boredom rut, it’s this: do something different. Nothing shakes the solid foundations of boredom like the jackhammer of novelty. What’s the old adage? If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’re going to keep getting what you’ve always gotten. If you’re in a wine rut, the only way out is to drink something different. Simple, right?

Now, I can already hear you saying, I’d love to get out of my rut, but I don’t know what to buy. Fair enough. The world is a mammoth glacier of wildly varied wines, but they are not always easy to see. Everywhere we look, the familiar protrudes above the surface. Also, it’s almost always easier to stick with a known experience, and let’s not forget, wine costs money. It feels risky to buy something you might not like. All rational objections. Objections notwithstanding, let me help you out of your predicament, if you so choose, by suggesting some reds and whites that you probably haven’t tried and that won’t break the bank.

If you love drinking pinot grigio, give the Las Lilas Vinho Verde a whirl. Many people love pinot grigio because it is uncomplicated, fresh and has a dab of sweetness. This Vinho Verde, or “green wine,” is a great option if you’d like to expand your drinking repertoire, especially if you’re the type who drinks wine on your patio in summer. It’s packed with white fruit and flowers and hails from a small, 34-hectare plot in Portugal, which means it isn’t the typical mass-produced Vinho Verde trash that many other bottles, sadly, tend to be. It’s low in alcohol so you can drink several glasses and still hold your own in a political conversation without drooling or becoming belligerent. It’s brought to you by the wonderful people at Crush Distributors.

If you gravitate toward chardonnay and you like some oak presence in your wine, very few other whites will have it. Other whites get oaked, but few other white grapes are as neutral tasting as chardonnay. The Bodegas Ostatu Rioja Blanco is the closest approximation I’ve found. Many people are familiar with red Rioja; fewer know white Rioja. White Rioja wines are typically made from the viura grape which, when it doesn’t see oak, is a very high-acid white grape – a lot like chenin blanc, or sauvignon blanc. But the use of wood has sanded off some of the rough edges here. Pears, apples, lemon and toast steal the show on the nose and translate right onto the palate. Devenish Wines distributes the Ostatu.

If you’re looking for a delicious and less expensive (and, unpronounceable) alternative to pinot noir, set your sights on Agiorghitiko, a Greek red varietal. Specifically, check out the one produced by Domaine Skouras in Nemea, a southwestern region of Greece. This wine is like a velvety bunch of cherries and strawberries, and is dry but not brusquely tannic. If you like pinot noir for its supple, red fruit, you’ll probably get along with Agiorghitiko quite well. Central Distributors carries it, and a slew of other great Greek wines.

You hearty cab drinkers present my biggest challenge. What can I possibly suggest that’s comparable and also inexpensive? Cabernets aren’t cheap to begin with, so it’s tough. However, there is hope. Devenish distributes a mencia – an obscure Spanish varietal – blend produced by Dominio do Bibei called “Lalama.” It’s warmly dark and fruity with the same herbal undertone a proper cabernet sauvignon displays. It’s even got some of the tannic structure and oak treatment.

And that’s that. Don’t forget to keep it fun! I’m not suggesting you learn String Theory or schedule a root canal, simply that you nip boredom in the bud by occasionally getting outside your comfort zone and tasting something new and delicious.

Bryan Flewelling is the wine director for Big Tree Hospitality, which owns three restaurants in Portland: Hugo’s, Eventide Oyster Co. and The Honey Paw.

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