Is there a New Zealand wine you can recommend that isn’t a Sauvignon Blanc?
Sadly, the rut many wine-producing countries get trapped in is getting so well known for producing one grape that the world won’t take them seriously when it comes to the rest of their output. Just ask Argentina. It makes a wide variety of wine styles, but consumers love them for Malbec and won’t settle for much else from the country.
Though not as far gone as Argentina, New Zealand is close to the tipping point where if it can’t successfully convey the stories of its other grapes soon, it might as well just ripe them up and go all-in with Sauvignon Blanc, which it produces with world-class results.
If you like white wines, NZ Pinot Gris (and, depending on the winery, Pinot Grigio) are top-notch, offering varied personalities and plenty of variety to explore. I’m a fan of their Rieslings, which are typically a drier take on the grape, making them refreshing to drink and eminently food-friendly.
On the red side, New Zealand is arguably the cool-climate king of Pinot Noir, especially from the South Island region of Otago (where they shot much of The Lord of the Rings). Short of Merlot and Syrah, which are getting some attention internationally, New Zealand is best at blending red grapes together, creating full-figured, proprietary labeled wines (my favourites are from the Hawkes Bay region) that can knock your socks off and maybe, just maybe, make you think of the Kiwi winemakers as more than just one-trick ponies.