JWL Issue #123: Top 5 wines of 2020

December 15, 2020

Welcome to the penultimate Josh's Wine List of the year. Today's Taste includes some of our most popular Wine List wines of the year – as voted for by the comments you've shared, the extra bottles you've bought, and the requests you've sent.

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Taste

Top 5 Wine List Wines of the Year

2020 was our first full year in operation. It's the year I went full time on the business, and the year we started importing our own wines. Many, many, many of you email us each month to tell us about the wines. We've been keeping an unofficial (and unscientific) log of this, and now can produce this: the top 5 buzziest wines we've sent out this year.

  1. Ciauria
    Back in April, the sun was beginning to shine, everyone was perfecting sourdough and the nation was still in full Zoom swing. It was also the month we sent out Ciauria. This nerello mascalese from high up Mount Etna went down a treat. If you thought you knew what Italian red would taste like, you'd have been surprised. Ciauria was more pinot than you might expect. A firm early favourite.
  2. Holly's Garden
    I love when I have perceptions broken. Pinot grigio doesn't have the best rep these days. And so finding this absolutely stomper from Australia was a delight. We still have customers who joined us this year and put this down as their first bottle they really loved.
  3. Ode d'Aydie Blanc
    One of our early imports, Ode d'Aydie Blanc has been almost universally liked. It's rich, tropical notes and full body take you by surprise. It pairs as well with many cheeses as it does vegetarian or seafood dishes. We love it as an aperitif.
  4. Sassomano
    This was a red for the heads. Usually, when we taste Italian reds from five years ago, they'll have had quite a few years in barrel. But Sassomano has had a lot of bottle age for such a young wine. As a result, the complexity is enticing. Not just that, but it's endlessly drinkable. This is probably my most consumed red of the year.
  5. Hirsute Blanc
    Just like Ode d'Aydie Blanc, Hirsute Blanc took people by surprise. For many we hear from, white wine is often green and. crisp, so getting full-bodied flavours is a shock. This wine was a great lesson in sweetness – the aromas are packed full of sweet aromas, and yet there wine is almost bone dry.

Learn

What about mulled wine?

Mulled wine... what are we saying? Yay or nay?

More than any question posed to us this year, this one has divided opinion the most.

We've got the full spectrum of opinions with "full-packet or pre-mix" at one end of the spectrum and "totally avoid, maybe mulled cider if you have to" at the other.

I'm personally not a fan of mulled wine. On the odd occasion I want warmed alcohol, a hot toddy will suffice. But that said, like with cooking with wine, there are a few rules I'd stick to if making a batch.

First – choose something reasonable as your starting point. Choose a fruit-forward supermarket red around the £5-6 mark. Something like merlot, new world pinot noir, zinfandel, or a Beaujolais villages will do well.

Second – make sure to use fresh citrus fruit, a handful of cloves, mixed spice, and plenty of sugar (roughly 100g per bottle of wine). Variations here are down to personal taste ("Make sure to add extra cinnamon" says Wine List's Customer Experience manager Fiona).

Third – top up the booze with more booze. Port is traditional (ratio should be one and a half glasses of port to one bottle of wine). "Amaretto works just as well," says growth marketer Chris – just make sure to check your sugar levels accordingly.

Fourth and finally– make sure to simmer the mixture slowly. Keen cooks will know that bringing alcohol to the boil leads to evaporation. You want your mulled wine to still have its kick and bite – so keep the pot on a slow simmer for 20-40 minutes until properly mixed together.

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