2021 has been a year full of surprises. As the world begins to open back up, so too have our favorite restaurants, bars, and lounges. And after the hand 2020 dealt us, this year has felt like something of a breath of fresh air in the wine world and beyond.

As a result, the VinePair team has been ravenously exploring new and reopened establishments and traveling across the country in hopes of finding the next great bottles. Luckily, many of these escapades have been successful.

This year’s selection of the best wines represents that wanderlust and hunger for unbridled discovery. With bottles plucked from wineries near and far — from Pennsylvania and Virginia, to Brazil and Hungary — this list is full of the most interesting (and of course, delicious) wines our team has sipped throughout the year.

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With current trends in mind, the VinePair team sampled a number of orange wines and wines considered “natural.” We also tasted tried-and-true varieties, including classic Bordeaux and California Cabs. But it was Pinot Noir that impressed us most this year, with bottles from all across the Golden State — Sonoma, the Petaluma Gap, the Sta. Rita Hills, and the Central Coast — making the final cut.

All wines on this list have been tasted and reviewed by VinePair’s tasting panel, which compiled an initial list of their favorite wines of 2021, then pared it down to 50 based on quality, value, and availability in the U.S.

Though our wine reviews helped guide our initial selection of contenders, this final list is the result of multiple rounds of sampling, concluding with a final ranking crafted by the VinePair team.

Read on for VinePair’s 50 best wines of 2021.

50. Alpha Estate Hedgehog Vineyard Rosé 2020 ($21)

Alpha Estate Hedgehog Vineyard Rosé 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

This is an elegant and balanced rosé, with quiet aromas of strawberries and flowers. These notes give off a Provence vibe, but this wine is decidedly Grecian. A slight depth on the palate gives way to some calm, moderate acidity. This is a well-structured pink that justifies sipping without food — though it can easily be paired with a charcuterie plate. Rating: 94

49. Wenzlau Vineyard ‘The Drawing Board’ Estate Pinot Noir 2017 ($30)

Wenzlau Vineyard ‘The Drawing Board’ Estate Pinot Noir 2017 is one of the best wines of 2021

From California’s Sta. Rita Hills, this wine is very aromatic and smells like cherries and fresh-turned soil with a hint of cinnamon. It has nice, light, and bright acidity that holds up the medium body without sacrificing the core of fruit. Rating: 90

48. Mas de Daumas Gassac ‘Frizant’ Rosé Mousseux 2019 ($24)

Mas de Daumas Gassac 'Frizant' Rosé Mousseux 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Smelling like roses and strawberries, this French bubbly has distinct flavors of creamy yogurt. It’s caramel-y and a little floral, with soft bubbles that melt on the palate. This is a great wine for kicking off the evening. The bubbles are mellow, letting the slight depth of fruit shine through. Rating: 90

47. Albert Bichot ‘Secret de Famille’ Bourgogne Côte d’Or Chardonnay 2017 ($24)

Albert Bichot 'Secret de Famille' Bourgogne Côte d'Or Chardonnay 2017 is one of the best wines of 2021

A Chardonnay that is as crisp and refreshing as it is deep and luscious, this wine shows no signs of oak. Instead, clean lines of structure with aromas of sliced apples and fancy bistro butter waft from the nose to the palate. This is a great example of the grape from its home in Côte d’Or. Rating: 92

46. Venturini Baldini ‘Montelocco’ Lambrusco Frizzante Emilia IGT NV ($17)

Venturini Baldini ‘Montelocco’ Lambrusco Frizzante Emilia IGT NV is one of the best wines of 2021

Lambrusco is often saccharine, but when you have a prominent thread of dryness to cut through that sweetness, you have found a proper wine in this style. The bubbles are soft, and the tart fruit is balanced. That dry note runs through, keeping everything in check. There’s a lot of Lambrusco out there, so if you see this one, know you’ve found a good one — and order up some fried chicken. Rating: 88

45. Kitá Spe’y Camp 4 Vineyard 2016 ($39)

Kitá Spe'y Camp 4 Vineyard 2016 is one of the best wines of 2021

From Tara Gomez, VinePair’s winemaker of the year, comes this delightful California red. It smells like cherries rolled in cooking herbs with some nutmeg and woodland pine peeking through. This would be great paired with meat off the grill. Rating: 90

44. Vivanterre ‘MSM’ 2020 ($36)

Vivanterre ‘MSM’ 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

On the nose, this funky French wine smells like lemon curd flecked with lemon zest. It has a sour note reminiscent of cider on the nose and palate. The palate also brings out flavors of oyster brine with balanced floral notes. Rating: 90

43. Chapel Down Classic Brut NV ($43)

Chapel Down Classic Brut NV is one of the best wines of 2021

This English sparkling wine smells like crisp, fruity green apples, with notes of sweet bruised fennel on the finish. It is an angled wine on the palate and would be great paired with oysters. Rating: 90

42. David Hill Estate ‘First Pick’ Riesling 2019 ($24)

David Hill Estate 'First Pick' Riesling 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

From Oregon’s Willamette Valley comes this soulful white wine. It has a nice depth of fruit, the acidity is low-ish, and it smells like almonds, honey, and pears. Rating: 92

41. My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 ($55)

My Favorite Neighbor Cabernet Sauvignon 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

A delightful offering from California’s Paso Robles appellation, this is a big wine with a nice salinity and slight pop of black pepper. It has bright red fruit and is wonderfully balanced. It would be great for a big steak dinner. Rating: 90

40. Giant Steps Winery Chardonnay 2020 ($29)

Giant Steps Winery Chardonnay 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

Nice, rich, and aromatic on the nose, this Australian Chardonnay smells faintly of caramelized pears and fresh butter. The palate has excellent balance with frothy acidity and a grippy mouthfeel. It would be great to just sip on its own or to pair with some hard cheeses. Rating: 92

39. Scribe Pinot Noir 2018 ($42)

Scribe Pinot Noir 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

​​Unctuous and fruity as it opens up, this wine is filled with deep, ripe aromas of bright strawberries, cherries, and cranberries. It’s a little smoky, bringing a nice depth of flavor. It would be a great wine to pair with a cheese plate. Rating: 91

38. LoveLee Pinot Noir 2019 ($47)

LoveLee Pinot Noir 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Bright and rich, this wine opens with a pop of cherry, earthy cinnamon, a hint of raspberry, and a dash of pepper. The palate is also bright, with great natural acidity keeping the core of fruit present but balanced. It is a wonderful, breezy Northern California Pinot. Rating: 90

37. Vox Vineti Nebbiolo 2018 ($30)

Vox Vineti Nebbiolo 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

Along with aromas of licorice and a hint of watermelons and cherries, this wine smells like an earthy forest floor. The fruit is mild with very active acidity. It has nice depth while still being refreshing. Rating: 91

36. Pierre Sparr Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé NV ($19)

Vox Vineti Nebbiolo 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

With aromas of crushed, overripe strawberries, this sparkling wine is very refreshing and at the same time heady and deep. The palate is rich with dense fruit juiciness that is blown apart by amazing acidity. Its effervescence makes it a great wine to start the night off with. Rating: 92

35. Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 ($25)

Gundlach-Bundschu Estate Vineyard Chardonnay 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

For an old-school, Cali-style Chardonnay, this wine has excellent balance. It smells like pears, a whiff of butter, and some wet rock. The palate has a nice weight to it, with wonderful acidity lifting it up and keeping it refreshing. It’s a great, crowd-pleasing option for the holiday table. Rating: 92

34. Cantine Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna 2019 ($15)

Cantine Argiolas Costera Cannonau di Sardegna 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Cannonau, made from the Grenache grape, is often enjoyed with spit-roasted suckling pig and seafood pasta on the island of Sardinia. Fruit and earth on the palate, with bright acidity announcing the smell of plums and dark cherries, this wine is a top example of the style. Pair it with anything from pork chops to paella. Rating: 91

33. Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Gris 2018 ($35)

Long Meadow Ranch Pinot Gris 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

This wine smells like crisp, freshly sliced pears and white flower petals. The palate has great balance, with active natural acidity winding throughout. This California Pinot Gris is perfect for a late afternoon with good friends and some nibbles. Rating: 91

32. C.L. Butaud Desert Willow Vineyard Mourvedre 2019 ($35)

C.L. Butaud Willow Vineyard Mourvedre 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Nice, ripe, and savory, this Texas Mourvedre smells like sour cherries with a dash of cinnamon. The fruit concentrates on the palate, but good natural acidity breaks it apart, making for a nicely balanced wine. Rating: 91

31. Fox Run Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2018 ($22)

Fox Run Vineyards Cabernet Franc 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

New York knows Cab Franc, and this wine is a shining example. It smells like a pizza topped with bell peppers and olives. It has such soulful acidity, that it’s just enough to lift the depth on the palate. Buy a case, it’s worth it. This wine will pair with any meal — from pizza to steak and burgers. Rating: 92

30. Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 ($140)

Ehlers Estate 1886 Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

A classic American Cab, this wine has an excellent depth of fruit with moderate natural acidity. It smells like blackberries with a whiff of cedar and a dollop of earth. The power and balance of this wine will allow it to age for the next decade, but it is drinking well now. Rating: 95

29. ​​Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba 2019 ($20)

Massolino Dolcetto d'Alba 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Soft, juicy, and filled with aromas of blackberries, blueberries, and turned soil, this wine has a supple palate like a good Merlot. It is very well balanced and, at just $20, would be a great weeknight dinner companion. Rating: 92

28. Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT 2018 ($78)

Argiano Solengo Toscana IGT 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

From Italy’s Toscana IGT, this wine has a soft, supple depth that smells like spiced meat and dark fruit. The nose also has a nuttiness to it. The palate is calm and powerful with well-woven tannins. Rating: 90

27. Fontodi ‘Vigna del Sorbo’ Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 ($100)

Fontodi 'Vigna del Sorbo' Chianti Classico Gran Selezione DOCG 2016 is one of the best wines of 2021

Aromas of cherry liqueur and black licorice hit the nose right away. Layers of dried fruit, sage, and olives emerge as the wine breathes. The palate is a pleasure — smooth and savory with hints of tannin that have almost melted away. Rating: 97

26. Inman Family Whole Buncha Love 2020 ($45)

Inman Family Whole Buncha Love 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

This wine has a nice, fleshy depth that hints at some cinnamon on the palate. With aromas of Muenster cheese and smoked cherries on the nose, it’s a funky option that’d be great for a wine and cheese night. Rating: 90

25. Somlói Vándor Nagy-Somlói Hárslevelű 2019 ($24)

Somlói Vándor Nagy-Somlói Hárslevelű 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

This Hungarian white smells like green apples and Parmesan cheese — in a very good way. It has nice minerality with a slight fruit concentration, and would be a great wine to pair with seafood. Rating: 92

24. Decibel Wines Crownthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020 ($18)

Decibel Wines Crownthorpe Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

From New Zealand’s Hawke’s Bay, this Sauvignon Blanc smells like passion fruit, grapefruit, and bell pepper. It has a wonderful balance of fruit and acidity, with a salinity that runs through. It’s a balanced and delicious Savvy B. Rating: 90

23. Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi 2019 ($32)

Dr. Konstantin Frank Saperavi 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

A nose of cranberries, cherries, and holiday spices is met with nice balsamic notes and a slight herbaceousness. This is a great example of the impressive wines emerging from New York’s Finger Lakes AVA. The palate is rich but balanced. Bring on the lamb! Rating: 93

22. d’Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2018 ($16)

'Arenberg The Hermit Crab Viognier Marsanne 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

With notes of pear, black pepper, and ginger, the nose of this Australian white is bright and inviting. The mouthfeel is rich and round, with a wonderful grip on the palate. It’s a good food wine but can also be enjoyed by itself. Rating: 90

21. Dom Maria Brazilian Sparkling Rosé 2019 ($40)

Dom Maria Brazilian Sparkling Rosé NV is one of the best wines of 2021

This Brazilian sparkling wine has a lovely, complex aroma, with notes of fennel, Camembert, and bright fruit. There are red fruits on the palate with a slight bitterness that doesn’t overwhelm. Rating: 90

20. Halcyon Wines Cabernet Franc 2019 ($25)

Halcyon Wines Cabernet Franc 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

Big, juicy, and round, this Cab Franc is full of berry flavor. But that berry is balanced by a significant note of white pepper that balances this unique wine (is it a rosé or a chillable red?). Either way, it will keep you sipping. Rating: 93

19. Bodegas Naia-Vina Sila ‘Naia’ 2020 ($15)

Bodegas Naia-Vina Sila 'Naia' 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

This is a good, easy-drinking Spanish Verdejo. It smells like pears and serrano peppers with excellent and active acidity. This is solid go-to wine for any occasion and would especially shine with a sushi dinner. Rating: 90

18. Balletto Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2020 ($20)

Balletto Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

This California rosé has just the right amount of juicy fruit to give it a little weight and personality, with enough natural acidity to keep that fruit fun and refreshing. At $20, this is a case-buy, go-to, give-me-now kind of wine. Rating: 93

17. Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc NV ($94)

Charles Heidsieck Blanc de Blanc NV is one of the best wines of 2021

This full-bodied and generous Blanc de Blancs exudes aromatic complexity — a signature of Charles Heidsieck Champagnes. Reserve wines make up a quarter of the total composition, adding to its velvety effervescence. Fruit is at the forefront (peach and cooking apple), along with notes of lemon peel. And there’s a mineral-rich elegance with hints of bread dough on the finish. Rating: 93

16. Mary Taylor ‘Pascal Biotteau’ Anjou Blanc 2020 ($16)

Mary Taylor 'Pascal Biotteau' Anjou Blanc 2020 is one of the best wines of 2021

On the nose, this wine smells of honey and brioche with a whiff of elderflower. The palate has a refreshing depth that is balanced by fantastic acidity. It would be a great pairing for a goat cheese salad. Rating: 91

15. Dogwood & Thistle Merlot 2019 ($46)

Dogwood & Thistle Merlot 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Smells of cranberries and blueberries hit the nose, along with the slightest hint of peppery spice. It is light but has amazing depth that shines through its natural acidity. The balance in this wine is wonderful, making it one to sip with or without food. Merlot doesn’t typically taste this good in America, but this is an exciting and proper expression of the grape, and well worth your money. Rating: 94

14. Trombetta Family Wines Gap’s Crown Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 ($65)

Trombetta Family Wines Gap's Crown Vineyard Chardonnay 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

This is a great American Chardonnay. It has all the old-school, buttery, vanilla smells, but the palate is crazy balanced for all the depth it gives. It could be paired with some cheeses, but this has a drink-on-its-own quality to it. Rating: 92

13. La Parde de Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 2010 ($41)

La Parde de Haut-Bailly Pessac-Léognan 2010 is one of the best wines of 2021

This 2010 Bordeaux smells like cherries covered in autumn leaves, along with an earthy aroma of river rocks and a dash of black pepper. Its structure has tannins that are still reducing and melting into the wine, but that doesn’t take away from the enjoyment. It’s grippy, with small waves of fruit rolling over the palate. When the tannins soften, the fruit will shine. This is a wine for steak or any lean meat. It can age more but is drinking very well now. Rating: 97

12. Giacomo Mori Palazzone Chianti Riserva Castelrotto 2016 ($22)

Giacomo Mori Palazzone Chianti Riserva Castelrotto 2016 is one of the best wines of 2021

This wine has everything you want from a good Chianti. The depth of bright and sunny cranberry fruit is kept in check by active acidity. It’s a bit young with some ornery tannins, but it’s drinking very well now. This is a perfect wine to sip with friends at pasta night. Rating: 92

11. Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Langhe Nebbiolo 2018 ($32)

Cavallotto Bricco Boschis Langhe Nebbiolo 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

This Italian Nebbiolo is delicious in its simplicity. It has good, even weight on the palate, with a welcome waft of fresh soil and ripe cherries. The natural acidity holds this wine in place, allowing the palate to experience all of its textures. Rating: 92

10. Camins 2 Dreams Zotovich Vineyard Syrah 2018 ($46)

Camins 2 Dreams Zotovich Vineyard Syrah 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

Deep and savory with a full mouthfeel, this wine smells like rendered bacon fat and dried cooking herbs with blackberries and cracked black pepper. There is a slight note of spiced meat on the palate and a calm, smoky finish. Rating: 94

9. Louis M. Martini Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 ($150)

Louis M. Martini Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 2017 is one of the best wines of 2021

What a great Napa Cab. This wine has a hefty structure and deep wells of fruit. It is balanced, with a natural acidity holding the depth in place. It’s framed by well-managed tannins that will only melt away to reveal more over time. This wine defines the mountain on which its grapes were grown. Rating: 94

8. Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio 2019 ($19)

Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina del Sannio 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

Lemony crisp on a cloud of mineral-driven acidity, this Italian white hits the sweet spot between dry and sweet. It would be a great pairing for a light salad or even a simple risotto. Rating: 91

7. Clendenen Family Vineyards ‘The Pip’ Nebbiolo 2017 ($26)

Clendenen Family Vineyards ‘The Pip’ Nebbiolo 2017 is one of the best wines of 2021

Nice and bright with a solid concentration of fruit, this is an awesome, vibrant bottling for your next wine and cheese party. The acidity is very active but doesn’t take away from the chewy depth of the wine. Rating: 92

6. Teutonic Wine Company Pinot Gris 2018 ($30)

Teutonic Wine Company Pinot Gris 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

Think Pinot Noir is all Oregon has to offer? Think again. ​​This Willamette Valley Pinot Gris is so balanced and refreshing. It has a slight depth, with a vibrant acidity balancing out the palate and nose. An absolute pleasure to drink. Rating: 92

5. Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2019 ($30)

Chalone Vineyard Estate Grown Pinot Noir 2019 is one of the best wines of 2021

This is a big, bold, and balanced California Pinot. The alcohol is high for this grape, creating a sharpness on the nose that smells like cherries, cola, and a hint of soil. That sharpness weaves into the body of the wine, aiding the natural acidity and keeping the wine refreshing. The palate has a natural viscosity, keeping you thinking about the next sip. This is a Pinot to pair with fish or poultry, and would especially shine alongside duck. Rating: 93

4. Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas 2016 ($30)

Domaine Saint Gayan Gigondas 2016 is one of the best wines of 2021

Aromas of mushrooms, rosemary, oregano, thyme, tarragon, dirt, and perfume intertwine on the nose. It has an awesome, heady depth to it that is balanced by high acidity. The tannins are present but don’t overwhelm. This is a well-structured Gigondas from France’s Rhône Valley, and is ready to be paired with some lamb. Rating: 93

3. Anselmo Mendes ‘Tempo’ 2015 ($63)

Anselmo Mendes 'Tempo' 2015 is one of the best wines of 2021

From Minho, Portugal, this Albariño is focused and honed in on a nice, mineral-driven palate — balancing its rich, amber core. It has a nice tannic grip and smells like butterscotch and river rocks. Serving it with a slight chill and pairing it with lean meat or a seafood dish would be amazing. Rating: 93

2. Carlo Giacosa Barbaresco ‘Montefico’ 2016 ($46)

Carlo Giacosa Barbaresco ‘Montefico’ 2016 is one of the best wines of 2021

A whisper of oranges weaves through rustic cherry vibes. The aromas are in control. They tell you what to enjoy, layer by layer, as the wine blossoms in the glass. This Italian wine is elegant yet powerful, not letting the intense characteristics overwhelm the palate. So much balance. So much satisfaction. Rating: 95

1. Hirsch Vineyards East Ridge Pinot Noir 2018 ($92)

Hirsch Vineyards East Ridge Pinot Noir 2018 is one of the best wines of 2021

What a wonderful expression of Sonoma Pinot Noir. It is on the lighter side of this grape, but don’t let that fool you. The acidity is bright but does not compromise the fleshy fruit that smells like cherries with a whisper of cinnamon and earth. Chill this wine down a bit, and your mind will be blown. Rating: 95