What sommeliers and winemakers will be drinking in 2021

Photo: Contributed

Every year, I like to consult friends, colleagues and industry professionals I respect and admire to learn what they've been coveting, plan to drink, trends they foresee, and any other intel they feel compelled to share.

2021's edition brings a well rounded view with perspectives from Austria, Slovenia, UK, USA, Canada and Italy.

What are you planning to drink more of in 2021?

Cristiana Tiberio




As usual, my love for indigenous varieties will continue to grow stronger than ever in 2021.

I would like to have greater experience with Sicily's Perricone, such as the lovely ones made by Feudo Montoni and Caruso & Minini. I never tire of drinking classically dry white wines made with Friuli's Ribolla Gialla and Piedmont's Freisa. Miani or Ronchi di Cialla, for example.

But of late, my passion for rosé wines has never been higher. The array of rosè offered has recently become much more interesting, thanks to a bright new generation of winemakers.

Tibouren (think of the great wines by Clos Cibonne, for example), but Bandol too, and Tavel, Faro from northeastern Sicily, the Rosati made with Aleatico from the Tuscan islands like Elba, and of course my regions's delicious Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo.

Mike Rathjen




I do have a wine-themed new year's resolution of sorts, and that's to drink way more international wine! This might sound weird during COVID with everyone (including myself) doing all we can to support local small biz, but this is more about keeping up my wine education and avoiding "cellar palate."

My original inspiration for the kind of wines I wanted to make were terroir-driven, minimal invention wines from the Old World (northern Italian whites, lesser-known regional Spanish reds, Burgundy etc.) After the intense focus on my own Island wines over the last few years, I want to make sure I don't lose sight of what's going on in the rest of the world and to be reminded of the benchmark wine styles that inspired me to make wine in the first place.

It might also be that my personal piggy bank isn't being so frequently raided as it was in the start-up years of the winery and now I've got a bit of pocket change to buy a few fun bottles here and there. I'm still broke, but a good bottle of Alto Adige Pinot Bianco isn't that steep!

Simon J Woolf

Wine writer

Learn more about Simon's upcoming book, Food Trodden, here


I'm excited to be drinking more of a new crop of small production Georgian Qvevri wines, from a whole raft of new and emerging talents such as Baia's wine, Bio Marani & Chona's Marani.

Also in 2021, we'll see the continued rise of low intervention & organically certified wines from all over Portugal. That Esperao has now certified all of its 700 hectares organic is huge in this respect.

So many exciting young producers are establishing themselves in regions such as Lisboã, Alentejo and Douro. Then there's the exponentially building Renaissance of talha wines in Alentejo (talhas are the traditional large clay pots similar to amphorae Found in Alentejo)

I'm also positive that consumption of lighter more "digestible" natural wines & orange wines will just keep growing.

Stefanie Renner




I must admit that I’ve been drinking a lot of Hausherr from Alsace, recently.

Also, I am currently a big fan of Pet-Nats (again). I like to try some that have been “aged”, though it is almost impossible to get those obviously. But we kept a little of each of our vintage for our own and recently had a 2016 and a 2017 to try and we loved that. Super tasty.

Then I’ll definitely have a lot our Pannobile colleagues’ wines, like Claus Preisinger – anything really, but definitely: BF Erdeluftgrasundreben. Judith Beck - anything really, but definitely: Bambule. Neuburger Gernot und Heike Heinrich - anything really, but definitely: Graue Freyheit.

Michael Gindl - Buteo12 2016 (!!!) – we admire his work with horses, and as a person very much. This wine is delicious.

Marto Wines – I really like what he does a lot. “Weiss” is always a pleasure.

Samantha Rae

Product consultant and educator


I’ll be on the look-out for undiscovered or smaller old-world regions and varieties. I have been blown away lately by some of the wines out of Hungary, Czech Republic, Jura, Corsica, and regions of Italy I’ve never tasted. For example, Nestarec’s Podfuck (Czech Republic) defied everything I knew about Pinot Gris and even that country as a winemaking region. I just want more experiences of wine transporting me somewhere I’ve never been before.

As always, I’ll be drinking a healthy dose of some of the amazing small producers Canada has to offer. This is easier from a personal perspective, but from a retail perspective, it’s a bit of a wasteland out here in Saskachewan. I’m proud to say there are a few exceptions which I drink on the regular such as Rigour & Whimsy, Echo Bay, Else, and Creek & Gully, with help from Juice Imports, but my goal for 2021 is to continue to find ways to help the people of Saskatchewan discover more of what Canada has to offer one way or another.

Ben Hardy

Wine Importer



I think overall, we may be seeing a return to more classic styles, less excessively wild natural stuff. Most of the wine I drink is somewhere on the natural spectrum but clean, structured and well balanced.

SW France is a region I’m digging into more these days, places like Irouléguy, Gaillard , Cahors and Gascony which have very longstanding traditions and progressive leading Domaine’s that remain affordable to everyone even at the high end.

I also love a lot of wines from Spain, especially Galicia and the NW. I keep waiting for them to blow up. Rioja also, a region important to drink the right producers, but a great source of affordable wines that can age a long time.

I’m also starting to revisit some other classic regions like Tuscany and Southern Rhone which remain important commercially but have fallen out of favour with a lot of “experts”.

Zan Abutovic




Since I am a natural wine fan, I have so much fun every year when new wine comes out, compared to when conventional vintages are released.

I hope more winemakers will join a more ecological approach and set new standards for future generations to come. I hope the trend we created with natural wine is becoming a standard. All of the best restaurants in the world have natural wine on their lists now, so why do we still shame natural producers like they are hippies dancing around a fire singing kumbaya my lord? Here in Slovenia, we had an excellent vintage in 2020. I think there will be a "petnat" boom in 2021 since that demand is high. More winemakers are choosing methode ancestrale over methode classic or champagne method of producing sparkling wine. What in my opinion is "passé", is heavily oaked chardonnays. If you have a good product, why cloak it with all that oak?

John Swick




I’m excited to drink more non-alcoholic drinks in 2021. Tea has become an interest of mine. I certainly do love a nice healing turmeric filled Golden Milk. My namaste levels become synchronized with my chakra levels. I usually have a Tanpura drone type of vibe going. I’ve also looked into getting one of those at home sparkling water makers. That would save us some cash because we drink a lot of bubbly water for hydration around the winery. It’s better than Rainier (Renn-yay) beer because it is calorie free. We are totally keto and primal now at Swick Wines. 100% Demeter certified and zero zero. Clear glass bruh. Ok seriously... A lot of people are buying wine in shops or retail. Wine drinkers are not having wine poured for them into a glass. So I think the benefit of having a clear glass bottle with a goofy label and neon orange Gatorade looking wine is high. Or a super chillable red wine. Crushable. Smashable. Carbo.

Buying wines based on political trends and less on what is in the bottle I’m sure will still be a trend.

Peter Van de Reep

Sommelier (BC's Top Sommelier 2020)



I'm trying to balance collection with consumption.

I'm excited to see the new crop of 2020 Pet Nats from BC get released. The Lightning Rock Pet Nat Rosé from the Okanagan deserves a special shout out. That wine is just so moreish. It's like the younger, more effusive sibling of Jacquesson's Terrres Rouge Rose champagne, one of my absolute favourite wines - a dark, rich and intriguing rosé Champagne.

For still wines, Chenin Blanc has caught my attention at the moment, with wines from both South Africa (Testalonga!) and the Loire (Mai and Kenji Hodgson among others) being captivating.

For reds, I'm loving the crop of younger producers with fresh, lighter styles from Gredos and Galicia in Spain and I'm enamoured with German Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir) from producers like Enderle & Moll. Same goes for the finesse focused producers of Australia. Sorrenberg, Mac Forbes, Ochota Barrels among others are just superb every time. I'll be snapping up as much of that as I can.

Last, and definitely not least, I'm trying to keep Madeira around all the time. The Broadbent 5 Year Reserve is so damn delicious at a terrific price in BC and it's nearly bulletproof so you don't have to panic about finishing the bottle right away.

Garneau Block

Wine Importer



We plan on crushing Piquette pretty much every chance we get. We're huge fans (fun fact- we were the first folks to bring it into Alberta). We love Piquette because it takes the leftovers (skins, seeds, stems), rather than throw them away, and then the winemaker adds water and lets it ferment with the sugar that's left. What results is a tasty, low ABV delight that's effervescent (fizzy is delightfully accurate) that works well on its own, as an aperitivo and with a metric heckton of dishes.

When you think about the skill it takes to make it (fermenting the sugars in the leftover grape pomace) with no additional additives, what can we say- it's a dream.

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