We have put together a list of wines you should try before your 30th birthday!
We’ve all got something of a bucket list in our heads, that catalogue of experiences we know we’ve got to tick off before we get too old, too tied down with responsibilities and the realities of adult life.
Some people crave to walk barefoot through the Taj Mahal or watch the sunrise over Uluru. Others feel the need to leap from an aeroplane, dance around Stonehenge on the summer solstice, or come face to face with a pod of dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico.
Whatever your grand, adventurous ambitions may be, we’d encourage everyone to piece together a bottle list - that is, a list of wine types to try before you’re thirty. If you’re over thirty… well, chances are you’ve already explored the world of wine enough to know what you like, but this doesn’t mean you can’t join the club.
So, without further ado… here’s our recommendation of the ten wines to try, before real life properly kicks in.
1. A really great Viognier
For me, Viognier is one of the undisputed kings of the world of white wine. This beautiful grape varietal is most closely associated with the Rhone region of France but is grown very successfully in the US and Australia too. What makes this a must-drink?
It represents all that is great about fine white wine - powerful floral flavours, a strong hit of stoned fruit (think green plums and damsons), held in a beautifully soft, almost creamy body. Drinking this chilled wine on a beach, with some grilled seafood… it’s the ultimate in relaxed decadence, laid-back sophistication.
2. One of the great, Left Bank Bordeaux wines
Now, it might be stating the obvious a little, but the classic red Bordeaux wines have a pretty strong claim to being the finest red wines in the world. In a great bottle from one of the smaller, listed appellations around the Left Bank of the Gironde river, you’ll find centuries of expertise, tradition and reverence, all swimming together in a carefully balanced blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot grapes. These are serious wines, for long evenings spent setting the world to rights with old friends, and they might change your taste in red wine forever.
3. A Top Ranking Australian Shiraz
To see the best of what the New World has to offer, look no further than the Shiraz wines of Australia. These are big, bold, complex wines - packed full of intense, dark fruit flavours, yet managing to maintain a list of tasting notes that is as long as it is fascinating. Expect peppery, oaky, leathery flavours lifted by forest fruits and vanilla notes. Masculine, loud and a whole lot of fun.
4. Royal Tokaji
I think every list of wines to try has to include at least one wild card, from a country you might not have considered before. The Royal Tokaji wines of Hungary are undoubtedly one of the best dessert wines in the world, with a thousand years of history resulting in something truly special. This stuff tastes like all your best Christmases in one glass - candied fruits and deep, dark honey flavours. It’s sticky, sweet, giddy and sure to impress.
5. Blanc des Noirs
Everybody loves the idea and image of Champagne, but hasn’t the reality of it become a little boring? The mid-priced bottles are more or less indistinguishable from each other, and the classic blend has started to seem a little stuffy nowadays. A lot of the smaller Champagne producers having started pushing other blends into the international market nowadays, in an attempt to inject a bit of renewed enthusiasm into the classic sparkling wines. Blanc des Noirs, which is made entirely from the black grapes in the blend, is a far sexier, more sultry and moody bottle that is absolutely worth adding to the list - it’s smoother, softer, and it can be paired with practically any food imaginable.
6. A Well-Aged Riesling
Riesling wines are gorgeous. All that crisp, acidic, fresh fruit flavour and appley grassiness make them almost impossible to resist on a hot day. However, if you age them for ten years or more, they become, frankly, out of this world. If you’re a fan of white wines and want to see what white wine can be and can do, get hold of a decent aged Riesling and open a door to a whole new world of flavour. These wines start to taste of forest floors, all autumnal hints of fallen leaves and misty air. The brightness of the fruit softens and becomes more rounded, and you get this earthy, minerally set of tastes on the palate. This German wine style is probably best produced by the winemakers of Alsace, but the Australians do a damn good job of it, too.
7. A Super Tuscan
Yeah, we know it sounds like an Italian comic book character, but the Super Tuscan wine producers were important rebels in Italy over the past few decades. Fed up with following strict and oppressive wine laws set out by a clueless government, which were resulting in embarrassingly poor wines, a set of vintners in Tuscany decided to smash the system and start producing wines they could be proud of. The conclusion? Bright, fruity, well-balanced red wines made from incredible blends, that will not only impress your palate but will pair beautifully with your pizza, too.
8. A Port that is older than you are
We couldn’t resist putting a fortified wine on this list, and Port is probably the best of the bunch. Hailing from Portugal’s capital, and packing a real punch when it comes to flavour and aroma, this is definitely one for the list. Furthermore, if you’re coming up to thirty now, you’re in luck - 1986 and 1987 were some of the best years for Port in modern history, and a thirty-year aged bottle is going to be a difficult drink to forget.
9. A Top Californian Rosé
Put together a picnic full of your favourite things, find a nice green space to kick back in, and pour yourself a glass of great Californian Rosé. This stuff is summer in a bottle and the best examples contain a flavour profile that really excites the senses. Tropical fruits like lychees and passion fruit, blood oranges and grapefruit dance together in the sunshine, and you won’t be wanting to drink much else while the sun is out.
10. The best Chardonnay you can find
Some people might be surprised to find Chardonnay on this list because the grape has been somewhat sneered at in recent years due to plenty of sub-standard bottles hitting the shelves - wine for people who don’t really like wine. However, seek out one of the great ones and you’ll discover what all the fuss was about in the first place. Rich, creamy, buttery and ballsy, a good, oaked Chardonnay is a wonder to behold. It also works beautifully in sparkling, single varietal wines like Blanc des blancs and several different crémant wines, where the grape really gets a chance to shine. Try this before you’re thirty, and you’ll be a fervent convert for the future.
So there you have it. How many have you ticked off?
If that all seems like a bit too much to get your head around at the moment. Then don't sweat it. Start by taking our wine tastes quiz which will help you discover your favourite wine types...