The world of the wine list is often imbued with too-little information (and, at its worst, a whiff of snobbery). As such we’ve compiled a failsafe list of top bottles – sparkling, orange, dessert, red, white and rosé – for any occasion and at most price-points. The list also reflects our changing tastes. We’ve omitted the well-known and the already-vaunted in favour of honest and interesting winemakers and lesser-known regions (yes, we’ve got France and Italy but we’ve also scouted out creations from Romania and Thailand). Fancy a top-up?
notes: Balanced, fresh and austere like its native Germany, this is for connoisseurs of sparkling wine. For a more gentle example, try the Saar riesling Crémant Brut NV.
notes: A credible challenger to many of the Champagne region’s top producers, this English sparkling wine has a lovely mouthfeel and pleasing complexity.
notes: Made in the Italian region on the border with Slovenia, this sought-after wine is complex and rewarding without being too funky.
notes: Winemaker Henri Bourgeois made his name in Pouilly-Fumé and then turned to Marlborough to create bottles of this ilk: floral with notes of citrus.
notes: One of the greatest white Bordeaux, this wine is round, minerally, complex and elegant. It’s an unforgettable way to cap off a celebration.
notes: Fresh and aromatic, this wine is a revelation. It’s produced by three young Slovenian winemakers who we’ve been watching closely.
notes: Who said rieslings do best in colder weather? This is one of the great examples – and it’s from Australia, no less. It’s round, crisp and delicious.
notes: This wine sets a benchmark despite being made from a sometimes-dull grape variety. Here the result is revelatory and elegantly long.
notes: A wine with an elegance and purity that’s hardly known outside of Switzerland, which is a pity. Don’t serve it too cold: it loses its aroma.
notes: A Spanish dry wine with tropical fruit and citrusy notes that’s great with tapas.
notes: A mix of southern French grapes by one of the finest winemakers in Provence: it’s sweet but never saccharine.
notes: A California-made bottle that’s all berries, earth and spices, with a silky finish.
notes: Romania’s wine doesn’t make as many ripples as it should. For an introduction try this bottle, made from a newly discovered local grape.
notes: A pinot noir that is this good is a true miracle at this price. Keep it under your hat if you’re entertaining guests.
notes: This Swiss Burgundy has structure, fruit and a palate to think about. More Swiss bottles on table tops and wine lists, please.
notes: We’re partial to a pudding wine and this lush and sweet creation pairs pleasingly with fruity desserts.