Did a glass of wine become an indispensable part of your life in lockdown? Or did you discover a passion for fine wines for quarantine? If you answered yes, you’re not the only one. The pandemic has had a glaring impact on our oenephilic habits, from the way we buy wine to when and where we drink it.
Cloistered indoors for months, consumers have been seeking out occasions to have a casual drink at home, whether outside mealtimes or during virtual calls with friends and family. Data shows that the number of times the regular wine drinker consumes wine at home increased sharply during 2020.
Despite the economic downturn, the sale of wines also picked up during the pandemic and has been growing through the post-pandemic period. Consumers have replaced restaurant dinners with a readiness to splurge on their next bottle of fine wine.
But if you’re looking for new wines to try, here’s the Ideal Wine Company’s curated list of nine best wines for drinking during the pandemic or quarantine :
- Castello di Brolio 2015 Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
This warm 2015 vintage stands out among Chiantis because of its lingering aftertaste and a complex palate best experienced after a few minutes in the glass. Medium-bodied and sharply aromatic, this smooth Italian red is defined by ripe red fruits and augmented by notes of underbrush, dark spice, chocolate, and grainy tannins. The earthy tones recall the crushed alberese rock soils that are typical to the vineyards in Gaiole, Chianti.
- Empire Estate 2017 Finger Lakes Dry Riesling
Traditionally, Rieslings have been on the sweeter side, but the Empire Estate 2017 is among the recent crop of crisp and dry whites. Created by sommelier Thomas Pastuszak, it beautifully showcases the Finger Lakes winemaking region of New York. The medium-bodied palate carries enveloping flavours of green apples and citrusy nectarines, tempered by jasmine mixes and a wet-slate base note.
- Escudo Rojo 2018 Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon
This boldChilean Cabernet is a great value-for-money red from the Rothschild wine estate. Spice berries and ripe dark fruits create a smooth palate, enlivened by oaky notes and traces of vanilla, pepper, smoke, and asphalt. The silky tannins and herbaceous qualities end in a long finish that bears the mineral characteristics of the Maipo valley.
- Gary Farrell 2017 Olivet Lane Vineyard Chardonnay
This bright and fresh Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley carries a firm acidity and elegant texture. Despite its plumpness, there is a precision about the palate that will find favour with fans of more nuanced styles. The concentrated fruity core has aromas of yellow apples, white peach, pear, and lemon curd, with notes of wild honey and nuts on the finish. Racy hints of sea salt and river rocks add to the enjoyable complexity.
- Krug Grand Cuvée 168ème Édition Champagne
For the most special of lockdown occasions, the fullness of flavours and aromas of the classic Krug Grande Cuvée 168ème Édition justifies its price tag. The medium to full-bodied champagne delivers a sophisticated experience with its complex notes of dried fruits, pear, toasted nuts, orange zest, honeycomb and biscuit, accompanied by the characteristic nutty flavour that comes from Krug barrel fermentation.
- Maori Moana 2019 Sauvignon Blanc
An absolute bargain wine from New Zealand, this is a riper-style bold and voluminous Sauv Blanc produced in Marlborough. Dry to taste and medium-bodied, it delivers deep aromas of passionfruit, tropical fruits, green stone-fruits, tempered with hints of capsicum and dark herbs, making it a wine for all seasons.
- McCollum Heritage ’91 2018 Pinot Noir
A traditional pinot noir and small-batch Oregon vintage, this is the debut wine of NBA star CJ McCollum, made in partnership with Adlesheim Vineyard. It opens with the smooth tastes of cedar, cherries, and violets, supported by supple tannins. This is a wine that can evoke a place – think of the volcanic terrain of the Chehalem Mountains – with its spice and loam accents. Recommended for a sense of wanderlust.
- Nickel & Nickel Merlot 2016 Harris Vineyard Merlot
Think bright red fruits, dried currants and berries, wild herb and menthol aromas, blended together and balanced with chewy tannins and firm acidity. The mineral-toned finish carries hints of forest floors and elevates this juicy and fruity wine to a soft elegance. This is a superior Napa Valley merlot prime for drinking now.
- Tenuta di Fessina 2018 Erse Rosato
Rosés and pink wines have been among the most popular pandemic drinks, and this volcanic wine from Sicily – although more sophisticated than the average rosé – shows you why. Produced from the dark-skinned grapes grown at the foothills of Mt Etna, its tangy and tart flavours mingle with grapefruit and blood orange. A potpourri of rose petal, berries, and Mediterranean brush notes deliver a delightful experience.
We all enjoy a glass of wine on a regular day. The pandemic has now created opportunities for us to explore alternative wines, discover new favourites, sharpen our wine pairing skills, and take advantage of retail offers on fine wines from the comfort of our couch. The trusted pinot noir can deliver a familiar dose of comfort in confinement, but we recommend opting instead for low tannin, high acidity, medium-bodied wines for easy and enjoyable lockdown drinking.