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An International Sampling of Refreshing Rosés slideshow

An International Sampling of Refreshing Rosés slideshow

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Wines from around the world challenge Provence


A variety of appealing rosés landed on my porch just in time to combat the sweltering heat that slammed us here in Virginia. None of the wines we tasted are from everyone’s go-to for rosé wines, Provence; I felt as if we should explore the world a bit and see what else is out there. So these wines hail from several continents, are crafted from various varietals, and are as different in style as wines in the same category can be: There is something for everyone in this line-up. Six people (two professionals and four civilians) participated in the blind tasting, which proved educational when an avowed dry wine drinker fell in love with a juicy rosé that was frankly sweet — it just goes to show that tastings can reveal preferences we never knew we had.

An International Sampling of Refreshing Rosés


A variety of appealing rosés landed on my porch just in time to combat the sweltering heat that slammed us here in Virginia. Six people (two professionals and four civilians) participated in the blind tasting, which proved educational when an avowed dry wine drinker fell in love with a juicy rosé that was frankly sweet — it just goes to show that tastings can reveal preferences we never knew we had.

Seven Sisters “Twena Rosé” 2014

This cheerful, brightly hued wine, made from South Africa’s own 100 percent pinotage grape, is unapologetically sweet. The nose is pure strawberry, and it replicates intense strawberry with a touch of Kool-Aid on the palate. A short finish; heavy, round mouthfeel; and low (11 percent) alcohol make it easy to drink alone; anyone who loves moscato should give this wine a try.

Western Cape, South Africa

SRP $12

Otazu Rosado 2014


Crafted from 100 percent merlot grapes, this wine is a very pretty raspberry color in the glass. This is a surprisingly light wine for a Spanish rosado: faint strawberry with a hint of that raspberry in the nose, light fruit on the palate, light body, and light, acidic finish. It is quite dry, but lacks the character we’ve come to associate with Spanish wines at this price point.

Navarra, Spain

SRP: $17

DMZ Cabernet Rosé 2013

This 100 percent cabernet sauvignon is a pretty deep salmon pink color and will appeal to anyone who likes a reasonably dry, fruit-forward, well-priced wine. It landed, with one exception, in the middle of the pack — not a bad place to be if you’re trying to appeal to a large crowd, say at a picnic or family gathering. There’s a touch of minerality in the finish, which cuts through the fruit nicely. Toss hot spice-rubbed chicken or a few garlic- and lemon-marinated lamb chops on the barbie: DMZ can handle both.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

SRP: $12

Stinson Vineyards Rosé 2014

This wine was in everyone’s top three, and it is no wonder: the style of this 100 percent mourvèdre is distinctly Provençal: crisp, fresh, exceptionally well-balanced, and very food-friendly. The pale apricot salmon pink is gorgeous, and the nose is exceptional, redolent of honeysuckle, with berry and current on the palate, a silky body, and a refreshing finish with a touch of mineral and smoke. This is a lovely wine, and would pair well with almost any food from grilled shrimp or steamed lobster to Provençal specialties like pissaladière.

Crozet, Va.

SRP: $19

5. Villicana Vineyard’s Liquid Hope 2014

Creamier and a bit more complex, with better structure than many of the wines we tasted, this pleasing blend of grenache, mourvèdre, and syrah is full of berries, boasts a lovely round mouthfeel, and the natural acidity of Paso soils ensures a refreshingly acidic, Meyer lemon finish. (At 14.5 percent, it is higher in alcohol than average for a rosé, which makes for a bit of heat in that finish.) Happily, it handles spicy food with ease — bring on your Cajun or your dry-rubbed barbecue and know you’re doing good: $1 of the profits from every bottle sold is donated to cancer support.

Paso Robles, Calif.

SRP $22

King Family Vineyards Crosé 2014

This local favorite did well in the blind tasting, coming in just after Stinson and Blenheim. It is a light, fresh, easy-drinking rosé, and what it lacks in complexity it makes up in crowd appeal, with likable zesty grapefruit in the nose, berry and a bit of currant on the palate, and a humidity-busting citrusy finish. It is a lovely salmon rose pink in the glass and, once stripped of its wrapping, the bottle proved to be exceptionally pretty, too. It would pair perfectly with any simple picnic fare, and could handle fish with ease.

Crozet, Va.

SRP: $19

Blenheim Vineyards Rosé 2014

Another local favorite that aced the blind tasting, this pretty salmon-hued rosé is an appealing, complex blend of 58 percent merlot, 16 percent syrah, 14 percent pinot noir, and 12 percent petit verdot. With fresh herbs and watermelon enlivening the nose and then blackberry, a bit of grapefruit, as well as a flavor the vintner correctly describes as rhubarb on the palate, this wine flirts with savory and sour notes, creating a surprisingly refreshing, layered tasting experience. It has a silky mouthfeel and a moderately long, zesty tannin finish, and could handle just about any food you could throw on your barbecue — as well as more sophisticated offerings.

Charlottesville, Va.

SRP: $22

Villa Gemma Masciarelli Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Rosé 2014

Made from 100 percent cerasuolo grapes, this pleasantly dry, drinkable wine is a light cherry red in the glass and glides over the palate with more soft cherry, a bit of herb, a touch of mineral, and a soft tannin finish, which hides the 13 percent alcohol. It is nicely made, with good balance and structure, and would complement the lazy antipasti platters of summer or Abruzzo specialties such as mussels with saffron, as well as heartier soups and pastas come fall.

Abruzzo, Italy

SRP: $15

Bedell Taste of Rosé 2014

One doesn’t generally begin a discussion of a wine by describing the label, but this label, a black and white photo fragment of a beautiful Euro-style blonde’s face with “taste” typed in red in her open mouth, is arresting, to say the least. Designed by artist Barbara Kruger, the label is provocative, sexy, and sassy. Could be the power of suggestion, but that pretty much describes the wine as well. A well-balanced blend of cabernet franc and merlot with a hit of malbec and a touch of syrah, the wine has a light, floral, and tropical fruit nose, and explodes on the palate with more tropical fruit, berry, lemon zest, and pink peppercorn. The finish is crisp and refreshing. It is a beautiful salmon pink in the bottle. Food? Who needs food? Toss on a negligee and enjoy it as is.

SRP: $25

15 Last-Minute Wedding Gifts That Will Still Impress the Happy Couple

Finding the perfect wedding gift is one thing, but remembering to buy it on time is another. With so many to-do’s before a wedding (even as a guest), it’s only natural that shopping for wedding gifts might slip your mind.

Not to worry. You can still score key wedding-registry favorites even if you wait until the very last minute (or miss out on the registry altogether). Whether it’s an espresso machine, wine glasses, or a homemade pasta maker, these wedding gift ideas will bring joy—and arrive on short notice, too.

Below, shop 15 wedding gifts you can buy on a whim for the happy couple (no one has to know how long you waited).

All products featured on Vogue are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

15 Non-Alcoholic Cocktail Recipes For Children

Here are some easy-to-prepare, mouth-watering, non-alcoholic cocktail recipes that you can try as an occasional treat for your children and teens.

Fruit Punch

It is a non-alcoholic beverage prepared by mixing fruit juice, water, and sweeteners, such as white sugar. Commercially, fruit punch is sugar-laden, with little or no fruit juice. Besides, it often has fruit-flavored soda or carbonated water, making the drink unhealthy for kids (2) (3). However, you can make a healthy fruit punch at home and use it to prepare no-soda mocktails.

Below are some no-soda, non-alcoholic fruit punch recipes that you can make for your child.


Whether it says Albariño or Rias Baixas, you have a refreshing wine, summer in your glass.

Wine Pairing Weekend Blogging Group Explores the Refreshing White Wines of Spain and Portugal
This month, our Wine Pairing Weekend group is off on a virtual trip the the coastal regions of Spain and Portugal to enjoy the refreshing white wines available from the region. Bonus: since they are less familiar in the US, many of these wines are both delicious and very affordable!

You can scroll further down in this post for links to all our blog posts from the group. My wine this month is a refreshing wine made from the Albariño grape, and I’ll be trying my hand at serving tapas at home. You just might find something worth trying before the summer is out.

What is/are Tapas Anyway?
Wikipedia defines tapas this way:

“A tapa (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈtapa] ) is an appetizer or snack in Spanish cuisine and translates to small portion of any kind of Spanish cuisine. Tapa may be cold (such as mixed olives and cheese) or hot. In some bars and restaurants in Spain and across the globe, tapas have evolved into a more sophisticated cuisine. Tapas can be combined to make a full meal.”

The above definition is certainly informative, but I think the Urban dictionary here is way more fun:

“Tapas an unfulfilling, miniscule, whore of a food that is as overpriced as it is unfulfilling. Involves foodstuffs that are halved and then halved and then halved about 10 more times, so that it can be ‘shared’.”

Best reason to make Tapas at home – it’s fun and relaxing to enjoy an extended evening enjoying all the flavors and textures in various small bites. Multiple courses encourage more time for easy conversation.

Best reason to go out for Tapas – Four Tapas = 4 x the grocery shopping, 4 x the cooking, 4 x the dishes….

Look to the far top left on the map. Rias Baixas is located close to the cold North Atlantic, the wines are guaranteed to be fresh and lively! Map courtesy of

Rias Baixas and Albariño
Rias Baixas is a region in Spain right on the western Atlantic Coast (just north of the border with Portugal). In contrast to the hot interior, the coastal region is quite cool with a maritime (moist and cool) climate. It’s called “Green Spain” in part because it looks more like Ireland than the rest of the interior of Spain!

As in much of Europe, most wines in Spain and Portugal are named for the town or region of their origin. If you see a Spanish white wine labeled “Rias Baixas”, it’s made from Albariño. Some wineries have caught on that their international customers appreciate the grape name being on the label as well as the town, so you can see both being used.

Granbazán Winery
The Granbazán Winery is located in the Salnés Valley overlooking an estuary which leads directly to the ocean. It doesn’t get much more maritime than that! Similar to other wine regions directly in view of the coast, the vines are trained in a pergola system to allow plenty of air circulation under and around the grapes due to the moist coastal climate.

Granbazán Albariño Etiqueta Verde Rias Baixas DO 2017 (winery sample, 9.5€ SRP in Spain or around $15 (click on any photo for a full size slide show, hit “escape” to return)

Albariño and Tapas
Albariño is very fresh, lively, and refreshingly acidic. Our Granbazan Albariño paired beautifully with everything we served tonight. From the fresh gazpacho, through the grain salad to the scallops, I couldn’t have imagined a more appropriate wine.

Wine Pairing Weekend with the Refreshing White Wines of Spain and Portugal
If you see this soon enough, please consider joining our chat. We’ll be live on Twitter on Saturday, August 11th at 10am CDT, just look for us at the hashtag #WinePW.

  • Lori of Dracaena Wines is Celebrating International Albariño Day with #WinePW.
  • David from Cooking Chat offers up Rias Baixas Albariño with Summer Party Nibbles.
  • Sarah of Curious Cuisiniere puts together Galician Style Mussels In White Wine And An Albariño WinePairing.
  • Jill of L’Occasion says What We’re Drinking Now: Chill White Wine from Spain andPortugal.
  • Jeff of FoodWineClick! writes Tapas and Albariño: A Winning Combination.
  • Lauren of The Swirling Dervish features Wines from Cariñena, Spain: Perfect for Summer Sipping.
  • Cindy of Grape Experiences is Summer Sipping: Pazo Pondal Albariño 2017.
  • Rupal of Syrah Queen lists Top White Wines from the Douro Valley.
  • Michelle of Rockin Red Blog tells us to Beat the Summer Heat with Rias Baixas Albariño.
  • Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm shares Albariño and Seafood Stew: the Perfect Pairing.
  • Jane of Always Ravenous serves Grilled Clams with Spanish Albariño.
  • Nicole of Somm’s Table is Cooking to the Wine: Adegas Gran Vinum Nessa Albariño Rias Baixas and an Umami-packed Twist on Fish and Chips.
  • Susannah of avvinare offers Albariño paired with Shrimp Paella – A Summer Delight.
  • Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is having an Albariño Adventure on Anglesey.
  • Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla pairs California Central Coast Albariños with Spanish Bites.

Cookbooks for Your Consideration
I’m still a newcomer to Spanish cuisine, but I have been enjoying José Andrés’ “Made in Spain“. The gazpacho and scallops recipes I used today are from this book. It’s beautifully photographed and the recipes are doable, with reasonable ingredients lists. I especially appreciate the recipes are organized by region, which is so useful to pair them with appropriate wines.

The second is not Spanish at all, but we have been learning a lot and enjoying ancient grains this year. Don’t make that face! They can be delicious. I have found the right additions and dressing make all the difference, and “Simply Ancient Grains” may get you started if you’re inclined.

Our Tapas
Our tapas dishes today came from two cookbooks. This has been our summer of ancient grains – we have been exploring good recipes for these nutritious food items. The bonus is that you make the “salad” on one day and you can eat them as part of a meal for several days. Unlike lettuce based salads, they are just fine several days later.

Patricia’s Gazpacho (José Andrés’ wife) recipe is here. text

Kamut Salad with Oranges, Leeks and Blue Cheese recipe is here. I haven’t found kamut locally, so I substituted farro, another ancient grain.

Corn on the Cob – You got this.

Taylor Bay Scallops with Albariño Wine – José Andrés recipe is here. No Taylor Bay scallops in Minnesota, so I purchased (dry) sea scallops. When you shop for scallops, try to find “dry scallops”, these are processed without a chemical that causes the scallop to retain water, so you are getting a better scallop. They are more expensive, but worth it! Take your time carmelizing the onions in this recipe, it is worth it! This will become on of our scallop recipe staples

18 Creative Ways to Set Your Reception Tables

Most weddings feature vows, toasts, a cake, and flowers, but long after the wedding is over, it's the clever, personal details that your guests actually remember. One way to make your wedding stand out from the rest is to add a unique touch to your dinner table. Be it through unexpected centerpieces, detailed menus, or cool and creative dishware, an innovative tablescape may be just what your wedding needs to bring your personality-infused theme to a whole new level. Not sure where to start? Try new colors, shapes, and textures, which can all transform your reception table décor. Here, get inspired by these real wedding table settings, designed for a diverse range of styles, tastes, and needs. Because while falling back on classic decoration is never a bad idea, swapping out tradition for more modern, one-of-a-kind designs can be a really good idea.

Pluck a Summer Rosé

I'VE RARELY heard anyone talk about drinking rosé without mentioning the place where they drank it and how they felt there. The reported mood is inevitably sunny and the setting is a veritable summer cliché (sidewalk cafes, beaches at sunset). Where other wines might invite analysis or provoke introspection, rosé is consumed in a completely emotional context.

Of course there isn't such thing as a "rosé" wine, any more than there is a wine that is simply "white" or "red" (generic grocery-store blends notwithstanding). There is such an enormous array of rosés I'd argue they are some of the most diverse wines in the world. There are rosés made from Syrah and Merlot, Grenache, Nebbiolo and Pinot Noir—the list goes all the way down to Zweigelt. And rosés are made just about everywhere—Italy, South Africa and Austria, to say nothing of California, Argentina, Long Island, Oregon and, of course, France. Provence is the spiritual, if not physical, home of rosé.

The styles range widely as well, from light and zingy with only the barest hint of fruit to full-bodied and complex, sometimes quite tannic, approaching the structure and character of a red.

And yet rosés are inevitably grouped en masse on restaurant wine lists and ghettoized in wine shops in special "rosé" sections. Why does rosé seem to be considered less of a wine than a color display?

The Most Delicious Summer on Record

Advice for camp cooking, picnics and potlucks, along with recipes, cocktails, frozen desserts and a taste-test of the best supermarket hot dogs.

Sam Bilbro’s family is behind the idiosyncratic Marietta winery in Northern California, so it is not surprising that his own project, Idlewild, would also have the idiosyncratic goal of making wines from northwestern Italian varieties in Mendocino. The Flower is a delightful rosé, made of dolcetto, nebbiolo and barbera. It smells like red fruits, flowers and citrus but is savory, almost salty, and delicious.


When its cork is pulled, this Austrian wine is fizzy with residual carbon dioxide, but the bubbles dissipate quickly. The resulting still wine, a combination of zweigelt, pinot noir and St. Laurent, offers aromas of peaches and berries. On the palate it is bone-dry and invigorating, with a bracingly fresh underlying citrus flavor. (A Terry Theise Estate Selection/Skurnik Wines, New York)


Lanzarote is the easternmost of the Canary Islands, closer to northwestern Africa and the Sahara than it is to Spain. Each vine must be trained low on the volcanic rock and protected from the extremely windy conditions. This superb, well-balanced wine, made of listán negro, is both fruity and savory, with flavors of peaches, minerals and what whiskey writers like to call “iodine.” (David Bowler Wine, New York)


This pale salmon-colored rosé from Provence is nervy, direct and refreshing. It is made from a biodynamically grown blend of red grapes — mostly grenache, with some syrah, cinsault and mourvèdre — and a bit of white (rolle, as vermentino is known in southern France). It is savory and saline, with the enticing scent of meadow flowers. (Polaner Selections, Mount Kisco, N.Y.)


This rosé, from a husband-and-wife producer in Northern California, is made of organic old-vine carignan grapes. It is savory, stony and totally refreshing, with flavors of red berries and citrus and a lingering saline edge.

What to Cook This Weekend

Sam Sifton has menu suggestions for the weekend. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.

    • In this slow-cooker recipe for shrimp in purgatory, the spicy red pepper and tomato sauce develops its deep flavors over hours.
    • Deploy some store-bought green chutney in this quick, saucy green masala chicken. could be good for dinner, and some blueberry muffins for breakfast.
    • For dessert, watermelon granita? Or a poundcake with macerated strawberries and whipped cream?
    • And for Memorial Day itself? You know we have many, many recipes for that.


    This is the archetypal Provençal rosé: pale pink and made from a typical blend of grapes, usually cinsault, grenache and syrah. With the aromas of fresh fruit and warm stones, the wine has presence and depth, and still goes down easy. (Rosenthal Wine Merchant, New York)


    This rosato, just one of several Italian words for rosés (including cerasuolo and ramato), comes from a historic producer of Chianti Classico. Naturally, it is made of sangiovese, the grape of Chianti. While it smells of flowers and bath powder, this lovely wine has a peachy flavor that is nonetheless savory, earthy and sinewy. (Polaner Selections)


    Birichino, a Central Coast négociant, has appeared regularly in the 20 Under $20 columns for the simple reason that its wines are always good and good values. This rosé, made from a host of southern French varieties, is bone-dry with a savory edge, just right for burgers or the sort of Mediterranean dishes you might serve at an outdoor lunch.


    Txakolina is the refreshing wine of choice in the Basque region of northern Spain, and has proved resoundingly popular in the United States, especially the rosés. The Antxiola, pale salmon in color, smells like red berries and is mildly effervescent. On the palate, however, the wine tastes as if the grapes, grown on the southern edge of the Bay of Biscay, were hit by blasts of salt sea air. At just 11 percent alcohol, this would be a good lunch wine. (Polaner Selections)


    This Provençal rosé is a tad firmer than is typical, courtesy of a high proportion of cabernet sauvignon added to the otherwise familiar blend of grenache, cinsault and mourvèdre. It is floral, earthy and savory, and despite the cabernet, is as easygoing, flirtatious and transporting as any other Provençal rosé. (Skurnik Wines)


    This excellent, unusual rosé comes from the country of Georgia, one of the most ancient wine regions in the world, from an odd pigmented clone of the white rkatsiteli grape. And it is made in the ancient way: The grapes, indigenous to Georgia, are fermented in qvevri, clay amphora-like vessels lined with beeswax and buried in the earth.

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    The 50 Best Spirits of 2020

    All of us will be glad to see the back of 2020, and at VinePair we wanted to go out with a bang. So it is with great pleasure that we publish our first-ever 50 Best Spirits of the Year, joining our annual beer and wine rankings.

    This year delivered more occasions than most to stock our home bars. Whether to hone home bartending skills, batch cocktails for socially distanced meetups, or simply add color to our Groundhog Day-esque 2020 existence, spirits have been there every step of the way.

    Bourbon continues to dominate on all fronts, from quality to value to sheer variation. It was a good year for aged spirits overall, which account for more than half of the bottles on this list. But those looking to discover their new favorite white spirits for cocktails, from Japanese gins to vodka that actually has character, will also find them on this list.

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    All the spirits on this list have been sampled and reviewed by VinePair’s tasting panel. After compiling an extensive list of contenders, we met for several rounds of responsible tastings (socially distanced six feet apart, outdoors), a few more rounds on Zoom for lengthy debates, and finally finished a list that we’re especially excited to publish for the first time.

    Here are VinePair’s 50 Best Spirits of 2020, tasted and ranked.

    50. Neft Vodka

    This rye-based distillate proves that vodka can deliver distinct aromas and flavors. Toasted sourdough notes lead the nose, before a well-rounded palate that ends with a hint of rye spice. Average price: $29.

    49. Elvelo Blanco

    Elvelo’s higher-than-normal 44.5 percent alcohol content is no accident: This tequila was designed specifically with bartenders in mind. Its concentrated, savory character holds up in all manner of tequila-based cocktails. Whether batching Margaritas or sipping on Ranch Water, this should be your home-mixology house tequila. Average price: $30 (1-liter bottle).

    48. Talisker Storm

    A non-age-statement single malt from the Scottish Isle of Skye, Talisker Storm has a subtle nose but intense palate. Drenched in savory smoke, sweet malt, and brine, the whisky finishes with a distinct black pepper note that’s reminiscent of the (more expensive) Talisker 10. Perfect with oysters, this is an approachable intro to the realm of peated Scotch. Average price: $55.

    47. Hardy V.S.O.P Cognac Fine Champagne

    Historic Cognac house Hardy boasts over 150 years of distilling experience, and its mastery of craft is easily detectable in this V.S.O.P. Sweet brown sugar, rich notes of plum and baked apple cinnamon are merely the beginning of this dessert-like Cognac’s pleasures. Silky on the palate, with the caramel-sweet character marrying with oaky earth, this expression has a warming sensation that soothes sip after sip, without ever cranking the heat (or sweet) too high. Like a spiced holiday punch or mulled wine enjoyed in a room full of friends, it’s comfort on the cusp of decadence. Average price: $48.

    46. Courage & Conviction American Single Malt Whisky

    This Virginia single malt combines a blend of whiskies aged in bourbon, sherry, and Cuvée French red wine casks. Bearing much of the character of young Scotch on the nose, the palate strays slightly into bourbon territory, with notes of cocoa, caramel, and barrel spice, though without the sweet kiss of corn. After sampling this bottle, we’re excited to taste future, older releases. Average price: $72.

    45. Germain-Robin California Alambic Brandy

    Distinctly brandy, though not as you may know it, Germain-Robin arrives in a sleek, minimalist bottle with a flashy glass closure. Distilled from California-grown Colombard grapes in traditional Pruhlo Charentais pot stills, this American brandy has a robust dried fruit core, textured with vanilla, toasted oak, and brown sugar. Average price: $75.

    44. Santera Blanco

    Don’t be fooled by this tequila’s sleek, modern bottle design — meaning, this is not simply a marketing ploy, and there’s serious liquor inside. With vegetal aromas, a faint hint of baking spices, and an invigorating spice that runs throughout, we love it mixed in Negronis in place of gin. Average price: $41.

    43. Bushmills Single Malt 10 Years

    Though single malt is more synonymous with Scotch, this whiskey from Ireland’s oldest distillery is a fine reminder of the Emerald Isle’s whiskey-making credentials. After 10 years in barrel, there’s no shortage of aged character, but fresh fruit notes and a relatively low ABV keep things spritely from start to finish. Average price: $40.

    42. Ardbeg Uigeadail

    Another non-age-statement single malt, Ardbeg maintains its reputation as offering some of the peatiest drams on the planet. The words “Treacle. Bacon. Bonfires.” adorn the label, and there’s hardly a better way to sum up this whisky. But beneath the blanket of smoke, there’s character to be found, with notes of candied orange peel and dark chocolate standing out the most. (By the way, Americans, “treacle” means molasses.) Average price: $83.

    41. Highclere Castle Gin

    Highclere Castle is best known as the main location of the historical British drama “Downtown Abbey.” In years to come, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that reputation change because of its association with this wonderful gin. It’s an archetypal London Dry, with distinct notes of juniper, rosemary, and black pepper. Compared with mass-market offerings, it offers extra layers, intrigue, and nuance. Average price: $38.

    40. Tattersall Distilling Small Batch Vodka

    Earlier this year, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) updated its official definition of vodka to acknowledge that the distillate can, and does, exhibit character. It’s hard to imagine bottles such as this didn’t factor into that decision. Made from organic corn, it offers toasted grains and dried tropical fruit on the nose. The palate is pleasantly neutral with a velvety, full-bodied mouthfeel. Average price: $27.

    39. De Luze V.S. Fine Champagne

    Aged for a minimum of two years, this bottle contains a blend of eux-de-vie from Grande Champagne and Petite Champagne, two of the finest growing regions in Cognac. Its delicate aromas recall fruit and white flowers, while the palate exhibits strong character from aging in French Limousin oak. While priced for cocktails, De Luze V.S. serves as an ideal sipping spirit, especially for warmer months. Average price: $28.

    38. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength

    Bottled between 108 and 114 proof depending on the batch, this is the headiest of Maker’s Mark’s regular lineup. The distillery’s signature wheated mash bill delivers a sweet fruit core, with the barrel aging adding char and vanilla. Non-chill filtration maintains great concentration of flavor and a viscous, enjoyable, full-bodied mouthfeel. The burly alcohol content translates to prickly spice rather than heat and ensures its complex flavor profile lasts an age. Average price: $57.

    37. Amaro Nonino Quintessentia

    An essential ingredient in the Paper Plane (a criminally underrated cocktail), Amaro Nonino is a wonderful introduction to the world of amari. Made with a grappa base and infused with herbs and botanicals, this amaro is lighter, drier, and less aggressively bitter than other bottles in the category. The nose screams candied orange peel and pine needles, before the palate chimes in with cloves and light caramel. Average price: $49.

    36. The Macallan 12 Years Old Double Cask

    The Macallan’s signature profile no doubt plays a huge role in the brand’s massive popularity, and this well-rounded, accessible bottle stays true to that playbook. “Double Cask” refers to the American and European oak barrels used for maturation, both of which previously held sherry. That combination lends the whisky a honeyed sweetness that will please all whisk(e)y drinkers, and not only Scotch lovers. Average price: $69.

    35. Del Maguey Mezcal Vida

    This instantly recognizable mezcal joven is made from eight-year-old espadín, which is roasted for up to eight days, wild fermented, then twice distilled in wood-fired copper stills. Smoky aromas dominate, though it’s as if dried pineapple leaves are being used for combustion. Tropical fruit kicks in on the palate, which is racy and shows a slight salinity. Try in a split-base Margarita, using equal half measures of tequila and mezcal in place of the usual one part tequila. Average price: $37.

    34. Pikesville Straight Rye

    A historic Maryland brand, Pikesville is now owned and produced by Heaven Hill in Kentucky, using a relatively low proportion of rye in its mash bill. This whiskey is notable in that it’s bottled at 55 percent ABV, making it one of very few year-round rye expressions available at such a high proof. Building on a solid fruity foundation, the alcohol and six years of aging contribute extra intense aromas and flavors. Average price: $52.

    33. Four Roses Small Batch

    If you’re looking for bourbon that’s rich in character but don’t want the high ABV that usually accompanies that, Four Roses Small Batch is the best bet on the market. Arriving at 45 percent ABV, this release gains light, floral aromas and a racy palate via a blend of four different bourbons. Each utilizes its own combination of yeast strain and high-rye mash bill. This is ideal for bourbon geeks and priced for the mass market. Average price: $36.

    32. Don Pancho Origenes Reserva 8-Year-Old Rum

    Don Pancho 8 Year Old should be the first stop for anyone looking to begin their exploration of sipping rum. With remarkable balance and grace, it serves an attractive mix of vanilla, sweet cherry, and molasses. Its caramel character will please bourbon drinkers, while the fruit notes will surely win over Cognac fans. All who taste and enjoy this will be astounded by its price. Average price: $36.

    31. George Dickel 11 Year Old Bottled in Bond

    The follow-up to Nicole Austin’s debut release as general manager and distiller at Cascade Hollow, this bottle shows no symptoms of second album syndrome. While a couple of years younger than the 2019 release, this whiskey is big, bold, and brimming with character. The nose effuses waffles and maple syrup, while each sip delivers vanilla and toasted oak. This bottle shows Tennessee whisky is just as serious as those that flow from Kentucky. At less than 50 bucks, it’s a bonafide bargain. Average price: $48.

    30. Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye

    In truth, any of Old Forester’s lineup could have made this list, as the Brown-Forman-owned distillery consistently over-delivers on quality for price. With 65 percent rye included in the mash bill, this bottle is an outlier among Kentucky-made ryes, as is its herbaceous, fruity profile. At this price point, you won’t feel bad for mixing it in cocktails — it pours an excellent Manhattan — but by no means is sipping straight or on the rocks off the table. Average price: $26.

    29. Glendalough Pot Still Irish Whiskey

    Of the many fine pot still Irish whiskeys we enjoyed this year, Glendalough stands out for the one-year finishing period the whiskey spends in virgin Irish oak casks prior to release. The influence is detectable on both nose and palate, adding a notable woody note that integrates nicely with the lively, tangy pot still character of the distillate. Average price: $56.

    28. Elijah Craig Small Batch Barrel Proof (A120 Release)

    There’s no denying this bourbon packs a punch on the alcohol front. Although it’s not a bottle we’d recommend to those taking their first steps into whiskey exploration, the 120-plus proof release lands with grace, highlighting and even boosting the spirit’s complexity. Notes of orange peel, baking spice, and vanilla shine from nose to finish. Sip this neat, if you dare, or over a large rock of ice. But damn if it doesn’t serve one of the finest Old Fashioneds we’ve ever tasted. Average price: $78.

    27. Sipsmith London Dry Gin

    Though something of a modern classic brand by now, Sipsmith succeeds with an uber-traditional London Dry profile. There are many worthy options on the market within this style, but this brand rises head and shoulders above them with its focus on quality botanicals. The juniper notes are vibrant and fresh the citrus peel piercing. This is the quintessential “G” to tonic’s “T,” but don’t overlook it for Friday night Martinis. Average price: $34.

    26. Johnnie Walker Blue Label Legendary Eight

    Sourced from eight iconic Scottish distilleries, all of which are featured on the bottle, this release celebrates Johnnie Walker’s landmark 200th anniversary. In truth, this is not just an homage to the brand but Scotch as a whole, showcasing sweet malt, earth, oak, and a subtle hint of smoke in one expertly composed blend. Though undoubtedly pricy, you’re buying a piece of history with this bottle. Average price: $387.

    25. Patron Reposado Tequila

    It’s easy to look past Patrón in the search for new and exciting tequilas. But this is a brand we came back to time and time again this year, and it delivered on every occasion with every bottle in its lineup. Among them, the reposado stands out the most to us this year. Sharing the pale gold hue of a fine Chardonnay, this tequila serves citrus, vegetal, and spiced notes of remarkable intensity. Average price: $51.

    24. Amaro dell’Etna

    Distilled mere miles from Mount Etna, this amaro is a celebration of Sicily in a glass. Bitter orange peel is the first thing that hits and continues well onto the finish. The 26 herbs and plants infused in the liqueur add infinite layers and depth. This is a wonderful amaro that oozes rustic charm. Average price: $34 (1 liter bottle).

    23. Fortaleza Blanco Tequila

    Fortaleza Blanco is an industry darling that lives up to its bartender-backed credentials. Pure, unadulterated agave shines throughout, starting with herbaceous, floral aromas and leading into a full-bodied, peppery palate. While it mixes a Marg like few others, Fortaleza offers the rare opportunity for a neat, sipping blanco tequila, no salt or lime necessary. Average price: $51.

    22. Redbreast Single Pot Still Lustau Finish

    Sherry cask finishing is all the rage across practically every spirits category nowadays. This is one of the best examples of the process’s use by an Irish whiskey distiller. Comprising a blend of malted and un-malted barley, the whiskey is triple-distilled, then aged for nine to 12 years in bourbon and sherry casks. Doubling down on the sherry influence, the whiskey then rests for one final year in oloroso sherry butts sourced from Bodegas Lustau. While it retails for slightly more than the comparable Redbreast 12 Year Old, it’s worth it to enjoy the perfect marriage of sherry and pot still whiskey. Average price: $73.

    21. Don Julio 1942

    Incredible hype surrounds this standout bottle, but Don Julio 1942 persists as one of the best-quality tequilas around. The brand shares little about its aging process other than the fact the tequila spent a minimum of two years in oak, which classes it as an añejo. Its hue is lighter than most in that category, sharing the light-golden tone of a rich white wine. The aromas and flavors dance between oak and agave, delivering a one-two of spicy vegetal notes and attractive vanilla. Average price: $165.

    20. WhistlePig The Boss Hog VII Magellan’s Atlantic

    The seventh release in WhistlePig’s flagship Boss Hog collection, this is a rye whiskey unlike any other. It could have placed in the top 10 for flavor, but its price point is an unavoidable high barrier for entry. It also has a unique character that could prove polarizing for traditional whiskey drinkers. Finished in Spanish oak and South American teak wood, intense aromas jump from maple to cinnamon to vanilla ice cream to spiced, toasty wood. The palate is equally concentrated and each sip is a memorable event in its own right. Average price: $500.

    19. Glenfiddich 15 Year Old Unique Solera Reserve

    This single malt utilizes a compelling sherry-inspired maturation technique. After aging in European oak sherry casks and virgin oak, the whisky mellows in Glenfiddich’s solera vat, which hasn’t been emptied since 1998, according to the distillery. While the sherry influence is actually more subtle than you might expect, this single malt offers tons of aged character in the form of nuts, dried fruit, and leather. Average price: $69.

    18. Ten to One Caribbean White Rum

    Made using column and pot still rums sourced from across the Caribbean, Ten to One is a white rum that’s perfect for cocktails. Rich molasses and grassy, herbal notes provide character, while its 45 percent alcohol content ensures the spirit will shine no matter the mixer or modifier used. Whether you’re perfecting your Daiquiris, or working on your Tiki game, this bottle demands a place on your home bar. Average price: $30.

    17. Monkey 47 Schwarzwald Dry Gin

    While the juniper influence is dialed down in this gin-aficionado favorite, Monkey 47’s mastery is exhibited via impossibly delicate balance. The manner in which a huge list of botanicals not only work together but individually shine is nothing short of excellent. With so many aromas and flavors to appreciate, Monkey 47 makes a compelling argument as a “sipping” gin. If that’s not your thing, prepare for one of the best dry Martinis you can make (garnish with a grapefruit twist!). Average price: $69.

    16. Ki No Bi Kyoto Dry Gin

    It is by no coincidence that Ki No Bi and Monkey 47 place next to each other on this list. Trying to pick between them divided the VinePair team, and ultimately came down to preference rather than quality. The leading “craft” distillery to emerge from Japan’s fast-evolving gin category, Ki No Bi dazzles with its delicate fruity and floral profile, and notable influence of Japanese botanicals such as yuzu and shisho leaves. This is one of the highest-quality gins money can currently buy. Average price: $76.

    15. Henry McKenna Single Barrel 10 Years Bottled-In-Bond

    Dried fruits and light caramel set the tone on this bourbon’s inviting nose, continuing onto the palate with great intensity. Longtime drinkers of this bottle may lament the retail price hikes of recent years. Still, at 10 years old and 50 percent ABV, and with such an approachable profile, we feel it delivers in the modern market. Average price: $73.

    14. Colonel E.H. Taylor Straight Rye Bottled in Bond

    Finding any of the bottles from Buffalo Trace’s E.H. Taylor lineup is a lottery, and one that carries a high price of entry. But this bottled-in-bond rye lives up to the hype. Thought to be aged around nine to 10 years, this whiskey maintains youthful fruit notes from fermentation while exhibiting hints of leather and oak from patient aging. If you happen upon a bottle in your local liquor store, snag it and set aside for special occasions. Average price: $146.

    13. The GlenDronach Revival Aged 15 Years

    Following a three-year absence brought about by supply constraints, The GlenDronach Revival Aged 15 Years was re-released to market in 2018 to the delight of all sherry-cask-aged Scotch lovers. Matured in oloroso and Pedro Ximenez casks, the sherry influence is evident in every sniff and sip, and the marriage of fortified Spanish wine and fine single malt is remarkable. This is a charming, luxurious whisky seeping in ripe blackberries, walnut praline, and ripe fig. Average price: $95.

    12. Tanqueray No. Ten

    Tanqueray lives up to the bill as “the ultimate cocktail gin.” It is much less juniper-heavy than traditional London Dry gins, and its herbal, citrusy character proves a perfect match for tonic water, delivering an even more refreshing iteration of the classic Highball. “Tanq 10” really comes into its own when mixed with dry vermouth in a Martini, however. Those citrus notes call for lemon twist, but a subtle saline streak says olives are not out of the running. Our verdict? Go for both. Average price: $33.

    11. Kilbeggan Single Pot Still

    This bottle represents both the past and future of Irish whiskey. As a pot still release, a style that’s unique to Ireland, it takes advantage of the provision that allows for up to 5 percent of other cereals that can be included in the mash bill. If corn defines bourbon, and malted barley Scotch, then Kilbeggan proves that other Irish distillers should be embracing oats. Even at just 2.5 percent of the mash bill, the impact on the whiskey’s character is profound, adding distinct notes of breakfast oats and an opulent, rounded mouthfeel. If you’re looking for something new and exciting to gift the whiskey lover in your life — no judgment if that person is you — this is the bottle. Average price: $45.

    10. Plantation 3 Stars Artisanal Rum

    As 2020’s relentless hits just kept coming this year, so did the rise of countless newly minted home bartenders. And for us, this Caribbean mix became a home bar essential. Along with VinePair’s staff, those wanting to shake their best or first Daiquiris should look no further than Plantation 3 Stars, a blend of aged and un-aged rums from Jamaica, Barbados, and Trinidad. While carbon filtration is used to maintain an almost clear color, all the character of the base molasses distillates remains. Given its versatility and mass appeal, we give this rum not three stars but five. Average price: $20.

    9. Evan Williams 2012 Single Barrel

    Every aspect of this bourbon lends itself to being your go-to weekday dram. At 43.3 percent ABV, it has an easygoing profile but is by no means lacking in intrigue. It remains comfortably affordable at less than 30 bucks per bottle, and knocks every similarly priced offering out of the park. For whiskey geeks, there’s also the allure of its single barrel nature, with an uncommon age statement and hand-printed barrel numbers on the label. Average price: $29.

    8. El Tesoro Añejo

    The light golden hue of this tequila offers the first indication this is an añejo unlike most others. The subtle influence of oak — despite a minimum two years aging in ex-bourbon barrels — is evident not only in its appearance, but every step of perception: Rather than vanilla or caramel, intense white petals lead the nose then, rich agave and sweet fruit drive the palate before a gentle oaky reminder that this spirit has spent time in cask. Average price: $54.

    7. Lagavulin Islay Single Malt 16 Years

    A quintessential example of the peated single malts that have made Islay famous, earth and smoke define this whisky, but it has even more to offer. Among the ashy smoke, there’s fruity sweetness, light caramel, and a spray of salty sea water. Though more of a second step in a drinker’s peated malts journey than the first, this is a standout single malt that every Scotch drinker should reach for at least once. Average price: $99.

    6. Nikka Coffey Gin

    If you’ve heard rumblings of the high quality gins emerging from Japan, it was probably from VinePair. If you’re looking for a bottle to kick off an exploration, Nikka Coffey is both the starting point and destination. More than any other bottle, it proves that “Japanese” gin is not just a designation of origin, but a clearly defined style, calling upon native botanicals to reimagine what gin can be: The category-defining juniper, coriander, and angelica still lead the charge, but are surrounded by a cavalry of complex citrus fruits such as yuzu, kabosu, amanatsu, and shequasar. This is a gin that’s perfect for every cocktail and occasion, whether mixed with tonic and lime in a refreshing Highball, or stirred ice-cold with dry vermouth and garnished with a lemon peel in a Martini. Average price: $47.

    5. Wild Turkey Rare Breed Bourbon

    As modern barrel-proof standards go, there’s nothing wild about Rare Breed’s 58.4 ABV content. Nor, indeed, is it a stark departure from the strength of the brand’s world-famous 101 expression. While apparently minor, the extra percentage points, and the expression’s extended aging period, matter. They offer an extra gear that kicks up the complexity and overall enjoyment. Rare Breed excels by virtue of a dazzling nose and palate, and a profile that remains approachable to all whiskey drinkers, rather than just fans of overproof expressions. At around 50 bucks, it may not be an everyday sipper, but it’s got every day from Thursday onward covered. Average price: $49.

    4. Filibuster Dual Cask Finished Rye

    From an under-the-radar craft Virginia distillery, this is a world-class rye. Its immediately distinctive personality challenges the notion that rye is simply bourbon’s “spicy” cousin. Instead, the full spectrum of the grain’s qualities are highlighted in this whiskey’s 90 percent rye, 10 percent malted barley mash bill. Long before any prickle of spice, there’s lively dill and a cleansing spray of spearmint. Next comes the faint bite of pumpernickel, toasted caraway seeds, and then — finally — the palate is met with a pleasant prickling sensation. Without doubt, four years aging in charred American oak and a finishing period in sherry and French wine barrels have added depth and complexity. But it’s the grain, fermentation, and distillation that really shine in this celebration of rye whiskey. Average price: $44.

    3. Booker’s ‘Granny’s Batch’ 2020-01

    On the colorful tag that adorns each of its signature wine-shaped bottles, Booker’s offers a remarkable amount of intel. Within the three postage stamps of the purple ticket used for the brand’s first release of 2020, we learn that this bourbon aged for exactly six years, four months, and 21 days. We also learn of its burly 63.2 percent ABV content, alongside its technical name (Batch # 2020-01) and its more nostalgic “Granny’s Batch” nickname. All you really need to know is that this bourbon smells and tastes like a Snicker’s bar, pumped full of cask-strength whiskey. It’s a decadent and memorable occasion. Even without the proof, the intensity of both aromas and flavors ensure a few small drops poured in a glass will last longer and deliver more than three fingers of almost every other bottle on your brown liquor shelf. Average price: $87.

    2. Código 1530 Reposado

    Código 1530 Reposado tequila defines its category by showing us that reposado is more than a path between blanco and añejo. Instead, Código 1530 proves it’s a route worth taking. At its core is all the savory complexity of the brand’s similarly impressive blanco. Some six months of aging in former Napa Valley Cab French oak barrels imbue this tequila with a note so unmistakably vanilla, it’s hard to tell whether there is any residual sweetness or whether it’s sensory memory kicking in (likely the more powerful latter). Either way, this tequila manages to be both luxurious and lithe, and captures the beauty of the spirit’s transition from blanco to añejo. Average price: $69.

    1. Old Fitzgerald 14 Years Old Bottled-In-Bond Fall 2020 Release

    From the first time we tasted the Old Fitzgerald Fall 2020 release, it was clear this bottle is special. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, given its reputation — this is Heaven Hill’s flagship bourbon, after all — but it had a lot to live up to (namely its price tag, which far exceeds a weeknight dram — expect to pay at least twice the MSRP of $140 at retailers outside control states). Yet, any niggling trepidation is instantly allayed upon the first sniffs and sips of this memorable bourbon.

    The sweet, wheated mash bill charms like a smile. The finish doesn’t linger but floats, like a crisp autumn leaf caught in a brisk November gust. While its aromas and flavors check all the boxes, this whiskey is more than the sum of its parts. It’s an experience — one delivered without earth-shattering proof or finishing techniques, but via pure, 14-year-old bottled-in-bond bourbon.

    Drinking fine whiskey is an experience that’s elevated with fine company, and this is a bottle you’ll definitely want to share. But to capture a few moments alone is a powerful experience. Average price: $140 (MSRP).

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