Find Your Perfect Summer Wine With Help From Coly Den Haan
When Coly Den Haan opened VinoVore in Los Angeles in 2017, the sommelier aimed to assemble a collection of wines from female producers operating in lesser-known regions of the world, while presenting them in a fun, accessible way. “My mission was to spread the word that wine isn’t as scary as you may think, and although it can be daunting—there’s a lot that goes into every single bottle—there are ways to drink outside your comfort zone without taking too many risks or ending up with something you don’t like.”
To turn this vision into reality, Den Haan looked to horoscopes and astrology for inspiration, devising a playful menagerie of nine animal characters that people can choose from when looking to try something new. “Instead of saying this animal is a Cabernet or Malbec and rattle off grape varietals, I wanted to give the wines more of a personality, so an animal like orange tiger could be a chewable red or an orange wine or an unusual rosé,” she says. “Flavor plays into it, but it’s more about an identity, if that makes sense.”
SOME OF THE ANIMAL CHARACTERS FROM VINOVORE’S WEBSITE.
Each bottle in the shop is labeled with a color-coded sticker that aligns with each animal. “If you know you’re a Silver Fox, but you’ve never heard of this really good varietal, but it has a silver sticker, chances are you’re gonna like it,” she says. By taking the attention off the varietal, Den Haan has opened a world of discovery for her customers, whether they choose to start a conversation with someone on staff or not. Here. she recommends five wines to check out this summer, depending on which personality speaks loudest to you.
SILVER FOX“These wines tend to be mineral-driven, like bright and crisp, but also elegant and sophisticated. Tends to lend itself to higher-end sparkling wines but not Champagnes, which can be richer. For the bottle, Donkey and Goat just released this year’s Lily’s Pet-Nat ($35), one of my favorite sparking wines in the game. I has high tones of citrus but still really dry, and excellent with raw seafood like oysters, shellfish, and fried chicken, so it’s good for picnics and barbecues. The winemaker is a little bit country and a little bit rock ‘n roll, like a Joan Jett.”
GOLD OWL“Gold Owl is a little more upper-crust in personality, but richer than a Silver Fox. Creamier, more decadent. Not buttery, per se, but that kind of oily mouthfeel, very luxurious. I was thinking Martha Stoumen’s Honeymoon White ($29.59). I always tell people they should drink wine with food, but this is one bottle I will just have a glass of by itself, it’s so delicious. It’s also great with roasted chicken, root vegetables, oily fish like black cod on the grill or avocado toast. This is like a Dolly Parton kind of wine, so fabulous by humble at the same time.”
PINK PONY“Rosé all day long! Pink Pony is the easier, fun side of rosé. Wines that are vivacious and flirty. There is a rosé that was just released by an up-and-coming winemaker whose label is called Ashanta. Her wines are bananas good. The Resist Rosado ($29) is the Spanish-style rosé, so it is a little bit darker in color. Everyone thinks rosé should be this light, light pink color and that’s what makes it dry and the darker the rosé the sweeter it will be, but that’s not true! I am a champion for dark rosés. The wine is aged on Sonoma ocean stones, which is very interesting, there is a little minerality to it. It’s so fresh and bright.”
ORANGE TIGER“For this I chose Amplify Wines Mixtape, they do a chillable red and an orange ($28), and I classify both as an Orange Tiger. Those wines, for lack of a more sophisticated word, are patio pounders, but because we’re in the Orange Tiger category, the wines are a little spicier, more experimental and mysterious. They are harder to explain because they are unusual and geekier but still yummy. Good for the savvy wine drinker or the wine drinker who’s ready for an adventure. Mixtape orange is great with spicy foods like Thai curry, or Japanese food like sushi.”
PURPLE APE“This is an animal that has evolved throughout the years. It’s a chillable red that’s juicy and fun, good for a party. Everybody is going to love it. Sparkling reds really fall into this category. We started making our own wines with the animal chart in mind, so this one is called Cosmic Juice ($26). It’s dry, so just because it’s fruity and juicy and popping with flavor doesn’t mean it’s sweet. In the front it has tingly bubbles that are alive. It’s like an adult fruit juice box. Not super sparkling, but there is a secondary fermentation in the bottle so it does have some fizz going on. It’s great with barbecue, ribs, or tempeh ribs if you are vegan, cornbread, baked beans.”
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