5 Styles of wine that you need to try in 2021
2020 is over! If you needed another reason to celebrate with wine, there it is.
For many of us (myself included) this past year has consisted of a record-high number of wine bottles being consumed on the sofa, along with varying degrees of acceptable takeaways as pairings. Despite consuming more wine, the unpredictable nature of this year has meant that we might have been reaching for those ‘home comfort’ bottles, rather than exploring some more interesting styles that are on offer. With that in mind, here is a list of some more off-the-beaten-track styles that will be worth your time to try in 2021.
Tannat from Uruguay
Let’s go straight in for the big red lovers with this one! Uruguay might not be the first place you think of when naming wine regions, but they are a nation of wine lovers who are up and coming in the UK market. The Tannat grape variety originates from Madiran in South-West France, but it has become the national grape of Uruguay in recent years. The climate here suits the grape perfectly, as it has previously struggled to ripen even in the hottest parts of France.
What to expect: a big, concentrated red wine with a full body and high tannins. They tend to be full of black fruits, often with some complementary oaky notes.
Goes well with: steak / grilled mushrooms with blue cheese.
A good option to try: Bodega Garzón Reserve, Tannat 2017
Moscato d’Asti DOCG
Asti and Moscato d’Asti are wines that are still struggling to recover from a damaged reputation, having been associated with low quality in the past. Although there are some examples where this might be justified, there are also lovely expressions available. Both are made from the Moscato Bianco grape variety, with Moscato d’Asti being lower alcohol, sweeter and less bubbly that Asti. These are made in Piemonte, Italy.
What to expect: a sweet, slightly sparkling white wine with floral, peachy and grape aromas.
Goes well with: Victoria sponge cake!
A good option to try: GD Vajra Moscato d’Asti
A bit harder to get hold of in the UK market, but a really interesting grape to try is Koshu. It is a very beautiful grape on the vine, as it has a slight pink tinge. They used to make sweet wines from the variety, but it is now increasingly common to see dry styles.
What to expect: light bodied, citrussy white wines that are very delicate. Also, they can be a bit vegetal.
Goes well with: smoked salmon and asparagus.
A good option to try: Grace Koshu Hishiyama Private Reserve 2016
Mencía is a grape variety that is found on the Iberian Peninsula. Great examples come from Bierzo, Spain as well as Dão, Portugal. It is a great wine to try if you are a Pinot Noir lover and it is amazingly versatile for food pairing.
What to expect: a medium-bodied red with floral, red fruit and black fruit characters. Mencía is sometimes in a fruit-forward style but it may also have some subtle oak ageing that is evident as spice, depending on the winemaker’s choice of style.
Goes well with: pizza, tomato pasta
A good option to try: Guímaro Mencia, Ribera Sacra 2019
English Sparkling Wine
Hopefully everyone has tried this by now, but if not… go and get some! English Sparkling is made in the same method as Champagne and is performing very well in comparative blind tastings. Due to global warming, the UK now has excellent climatic conditions to grow grapes for sparkling wine and retain the perfect acidity and freshness. We are living through the birth of a wine region!
What to expect: think Champagne, but zestier! Fresh green fruits, citrus, gooseberry and some biscuity, brioche aromas.
Goes well with: oysters, nachos
A good option to try: Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2013
Pedro Ximénez Sherry
This wine is complete indulgence. One of the many styles of sherry, this wine is made from Pedro Ximénez grapes and is very dark in colour. These are naturally sweet, fortified wines from Jerez in Spain. Once harvested, the grapes are laid out to dry in the sun for a couple of weeks to concentrate sugar levels. If you do not like other types of sherry, please do not rule this one out! This is almost more of a syrup than it is a drink, and you should drink it as such.
What to expect: incredibly full bodied, lusciously sweet and boasting flavours of raisin, treacle and Earl Grey tea leaves.
Goes well with: vanilla ice cream!
A good option to try: Delicado Pedro Ximenez 'PX', Sherry