The Top 5 Wines in the World (2021 Update)

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Love wine? Then you’ve no doubt seen at least a few of the many greatly anticipated wine lists that come out every year. 

The Top 100.  The 50 Best Wines of the Year. The Top 20. The 14 Best Wines of the Year. And more specific ones, like Best Cabernet Sauvignon, Best Chardonnay, Best Pinot Noir, Best Wines Under $40, and 25 Wines to Try Before You Die. 

The list of lists is long indeed. 

For wineries, making the list is a huge deal, whether the list is from the largest and most respected wine magazines or from local and regional publications. 

And rightfully so. 

I love everything that's old, - old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wine.

Oliver Goldsmith

The recognition from being named to a list can help propel a winery’s brand to a broader audience and establish its place in a certain echelon of quality. Plus, let’s face it. Winning a place on a selective list just feels amazing. 

So much hard work by so many people that created that vintage — the award is a moment to cherish. And we cheer right along when our local wineries make a list! 

For wine lovers like you and us, wine lists are great resources. We love reading the lists, and often get tips for new wines to check out. We also realize they are subjective, especially when they rank the top wines by style or variety or region. 

How can we compare an Italian Sangiovese and a cool-climate Pinot Noir to win “Best Red,” or a stainless steel Albariño compared to a Chardonnay that’s had 36 months in New French Oak for “Best White”? 

They’re all oh-so-different. Plus, we all have different tastes, and what we love (Nebbiolo, Pinot Noir, Tannat, Cabernet Franc, and Tempranillo) you may not. The wines might all be quality, but preference is subjective. What’s “Best” to us may not appeal to you at all. 

805 Wine Country founders Kara and Andrew snagging the last bottle of Teroldego at Wolff Vineyards.

What’s “Best” to us may not appeal to you at all, but quality shines through great wines.

And our own palates change over time. I remember tasting a Château Lafite Rothschild at a friend’s milestone birthday party 10 or so years ago. 

My impression? It’s wine. It’s red. And, uh, it’s made in France. Yep, that’s all I could taste at that point in my wine journey. What a shame, but that’s reality. Now? I would so love to go back to that moment and taste that wine again. 

While that wine likely had earned a spot on a prestigious wine list back then, its nuance and appeal were lost on me. And, while a Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon might have been my go-to back then, it wouldn’t likely be the top of my list today. My, how times and palates change. And thank goodness for that, right?

Given that lists are subjective, and there are so many good wines in the world, crowning any of them “Best” takes valiant effort and lots of analysis (such a burden, but we’ll sacrifice). 

But after much consideration, and tasting countless bottles, we’ve narrowed down our list. Here is the 805 Wine Country’s list of Top 5 Wines in the World. PLUS - we include TWO bonus wines!

The Best Part of our List?

You can get all of these wines TODAY.

Ready to taste the best? Grab your glass and let's go!

1. The Wine That’s In Your Glass

If you have a glass of wine in your hand, that’s a darned good thing. Right? Because even though this glass of wine might not be the best wine you’ve ever had, it beats not having a glass of wine in your hand. 

When we’re asked what our favorite wine is, this might just be our answer! Then, we might follow with a few varieties or styles we’re particularly fond of. (Remember that Nebbiolo reference?)

2. The Wine You’re Having Next

While the wine in your hand is the best wine, the next best wine is the one that’s coming next. Whether it’s another glass of the first wine because you loved it so much, or a glass of something new, that anticipation is a beautiful thing. 

In fact, we think someone should bottle that feeling of Wine Anticipation.

3. The Best Wine You Can Remember

Do you have certain wines that make you happy just thinking about them?

It might be because the first time you tasted it was on a special occasion, or you were with special people, or you were in a special place.

Or it’s the first wine that you actually tasted (aromas, flavors, acid, tannin, and balance) and it opened your eyes to the joy ahead on your wine journey. 

The wine itself might not even be considered the best quality when analyzed objectively. But that doesn’t matter, because the feeling you get remembering it makes it super special.

For us, this wine is Monte Antico Rosso Toscana, one of the first Super Tuscan wines we ever tried, before we knew what Super Tuscan meant. We first tasted it at a birthday celebration years ago, and to this day, Monte Antico holds a special place.

In fact, we recently saw a Double Magnum of Monte Antico at Costco — a gift from the wine gods! Oh, the memories it brought back! 

Did we buy it? That’s a silly question. (The only question now: when do we open it?)

4. The Wine That’s Free

Free wine? That’s a beautiful thing.

Of course, free wine can be lacking in quality — like the neighborhood block party where the only option is the huge bottle of Oak Leaf Vineyards Chardonnay.

But hey, it’s free, the music’s good, the tri-tip is on the grill, and everyone’s having a great time.

And next time, you can bring a bottle of something better to share.

(via Giphy)

5. The Wine You Made

No matter if you’re a winemaker for a large brand, a small-production Garagiste winemaker with a growing following but no tasting room (yet), a fledgling home winemaker making your first gallon or two of wine in the garage, or something in between, the wine you make is the best. 

Because in every bottle, you taste the satisfying results of the long days in the winery, dark nights in the vineyard, and months of waiting for the magic. 

Mary Bradley sorting during the crush of her Zinfandel grapes
Mary Bradley (Ila and Gra Wines) sorting and inspecting her grapes as they begin the journey into wine.
Copia Vineyard's Varinder Sahi is mixing it up! (📸 Copia Vineyards)

And while not every wine you make will turn into one of the Top 5 Wines in the World, every single one is pretty amazing — because you made it!

And the more practice you have making wine, the better the wine will become. 

By the way, if you need any tasting volunteers for your next bottling, you know who to ask. We’d love to taste the fruits of your labors, and we’ll bring the cheese board. Just saying.

BONUS #1: The Wine You Share

We think one of the very best things about wine is sharing it, and we love how wine has a way of connecting us all. 

With friends, family, strangers (who are actually friends you’ve just met). During celebrations, milestones, and major life events. During happy times. And sad times, too. 

Wine that’s shared seems to elevate its gifts exponentially. Remember our Monte Antico? It’s not an expensive wine, but the memories of that first taste on that birthday make it one of the best wines in the world. 

What about those special wines you share with someone, and you watch as their face lights up at their first sip? Maybe this is their first taste of a complex Pinot Noir, a cool-climate Syrah, a Chateauneuf du Pape Mourvèdre, a DOCG Barolo. With this first taste, their world just opened up a little bit more. And forever more, they’ll think of you when they taste this wine. 

We have one of these beautiful moments in time with Kara’s Mom. Her name is Ila, and winemaker Mary Bradley makes beautiful wines under her Ila label. Yes, they share the same (and very unique) name.

When Ila tasted her namesake wine for the first time, time really did stop for a few minutes.

Mary Bradley sharing her Ila Wine.
Kara's Mom, Ila, tasting her namesake wine for the first time.

BONUS #2 for 2021: The Wine You Can Taste at a Winery

By now, the world-changing events we all experienced in 2020 are thankfully behind us. We may have a long way to go to get back to “normal” as we viewed it in 2019, but we’re definitely on the right path. 2020 was a year of change, resets, and reexamining priorities. 

I think one of the biggest lessons was how important human connection is to us all. We’re social creatures. For good or for bad. We need connection. Conversation. A hug now and then. A laugh, a walk, a dance. 

Before a virus wreaked havoc on the world, we never thought about how precious these things are. In fact, many people didn’t think they needed connection — life was good being glued to a screen all day, whether a phone, tablet, computer. 

But when we COULDN’T connect, when we were forbidden from seeing each other, spending time together, sharing in person the little everyday moments that make up a life, that reality hit hard. 

As a personal note, in the previous section about my Mom, Ila, and her namesake wine, I would give anything to share another bottle of Ila wine with my Mom. But I can’t. She passed away in 2020. I miss her every day, and I think often about this special moment and how much it meant to both of us. It makes me happy.  

Now, with the world opening back up, step by step, so are the wineries. Tastings may be outdoors for a while to come, and that’s OK. At least we can go to a winery, sit back, relax, and enjoy the experience. Whether we’re tasting a flight, a glass, or a sharing a bottle, the ability to return to our local wineries is a gift I think all of us wine lovers will appreciate forever. 

So there it is — our picks for the Top 5 Wines in the World!

Which of these get your vote for Top 5 Wines in the World? Did we miss one of your favorites? Leave a comment below.


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