I began my career in wine as a sommelier. Growing up in the south, hospitality was ingrained in my DNA. I was taught that guests should be welcomed and receive the best one has to offer, and that notion underlined my approach in restaurants. It meant making sure there was something for all types of drinkers on my wine list or by-the-glass selection. Sales aside, at the end of the day all that mattered was a great guest experience. That could mean double decanting a thousand-dollar bottle of wine or simply pouring a glass of Beaujolais.
My work as a wine critic parallels my work as a sommelier, and I think of my discoveries in 2020 as selections from my wine list: a wide range of varieties and producers with plenty of affordable options. As a young wine writer, I’m very sensitive to pricing, and I see a huge risk to the wine world as it stands today. Inflated pricing and scarcity means that many young people will never have the chance to taste benchmark wines like DRC or Gaja. Are we as professionals shutting out young drinkers or those without hundreds of dollars to spend? Who will be the wine drinkers of the future?
In an effort to democratize the playing field, I’ve highlighted several wines of great quality and value this year. There are so many incredible wines being made in the US that don’t require a week’s paycheck. Many of these wines come from young winemakers with a fresh perspective and emphasis on sustainable production that will shape the future of the wine world. I hope you enjoy these selections as much as I do!