Photo Credit: Erin Cooper Photography

It is no surprise that this year has prompted most of us to reevaluate priorities, reexamine budgets and reconnect with ourselves and our families in simpler, yet often more meaningful ways. While our bank accounts may not be in a position to splurge on the luxury-priced wines of yesteryear, it doesn’t mean that we can’t still enjoy a delicious bottle and allow it to elevate a meal or a moment. 

We recently connected with a few local sommeliers and discussed how this year’s events abruptly separated them from daily tastings of some of the world’s finest wines, and provided them with the opportunity to shift their perspective and reacquaint themselves with value wines that the greater majority has access to. 

Michael Rone

How have the events surrounding COVID-19 impacted the types of wines you’ve been drinking over the past several months? 

Being home and cooking more than ever, I’ve gone back to my roots and have been drinking more Italian wines to complement the food I’ve been preparing.

Is there a varietal or style of wine that you are surprised you’ve been enjoying? 

I’ve really enjoyed reconnecting with Chianti Classico. It’s often overlooked here in Vegas especially compared to its big brother, Brunello di Montalcino. The quality has never been better since the conclusion of the Chianti Classico 2000 Project and the establishing of the Gran Selezione category.

Since many people are on a tighter budget this year, are there any gems you’ve found at Costco or similar retailers that offer an incredible value for $20 or less? 

Easy question! Castello di Monsanto Chianti Classico Riserva 2015. Long established traditionalist focused on Sangiovese. The 2015 is a base of 90% Sangiovese with Canaiolo Nero and Colorino making up the rest of the blend.  Classic notes of wild red fruits, earth, leather and “mentuccia” pair with an array of dishes from grilled vegetables to pastas to meats.

If consumers didn’t know what Chianti Classico should taste like, this is the one
to try.

Jason Smith, M.S.

How have the events surrounding COVID-19 impacted the types of wines you’ve been drinking over the past several months? 

I have gone through the vast majority of every day drinking white wine in my cellar and started to look at those “special occasion” types of wines that are still too young. This has me purchasing easy drinking sauvignon blancs and chardonnays at retail shops.  

Since many people are on a tighter budget this year, are there any gems you’ve found at Costco or similar retailers that offer an incredible value for $20 or less? 

I have enjoyed Justin Sauvignon Blanc from Paso Robles. It is refreshing, light and perfect for day drinking!

If you had to select a wine, or varietal, to represent 2019 and a wine, or varietal, to represent 2020, what would they be and why? 

2019 = Grand Cru White Burgundy and 2020 = Natty Light 

What would you pair with the wine you selected and why? 

With the Grand Cru white Burgundy, I would choose something fantastic and elevated like a butter poached lobster tail with a topping of Golden Osetra Caviar. A Natty Light in 2020 goes with sloppy joes, Tiger King viewing from a well-worn couch and a dash of depression. 

Dylan Amos

How have the events surrounding COVID-19 impacted the types of wines you’ve been drinking over the past several months? 

Well, there's not much in the way of trade tasting going on, so the variety is lesser by a factor of a lot. At home, it's Oregon pinot and chardonnay, Paso Robles whites and bubbles. I look for easy going and food friendly wines with interesting character, wines that just make me smile and wines on sale. Seriously though, Oregon chardonnay is where it’s at for me. Lingua Franca, Evening Land, Domaine Serene, Bergstrom—all Willamette Valley chardonnays, all different, all quality and all great with seafood (among other things). 

Since many people are on a tighter budget this year, are there any gems you’ve found at Costco or similar retailers that offer an incredible value for $20 or less? 

Marques de Riscal Reserva Rioja always seems to be available at Trader Joe's. It's a great wine for your Manchego. It's a steal and a half. 

Since reopening, which types of wines, varietals and/or regions have you recognized to be the most popular amongst your guests? 

Champagne is up. Now that's a happy sentence. We're selling half bottles of Perrier-Jouet at a pretty good clip, Ruinart Brut Rose is a wine that never stops moving for us and basically goes with everything, while Roederer Estate Brut Rose’s return to the list is mighty welcome.