One of the best things about wine lovers is that, when it comes to their wine education, they are always thirsty for more. Over the years, Wine Spectator has posted around 1,000 videos that provide another layer of understanding and appreciation of wine and the people, places and experiences that each bottle holds. And 2016 was one of the best years yet.
Looking back on the past 12 months, the Wine Spectator video team had the privilege of speaking with top winemakers to learn about their wine regions and styles, from the luscious sweet wines of Barsac with Bérénice Lurton of Bordeaux's Château Climens (producer of the No. 4 wine of 2016) to the characteristics of Washington's Cabernets with Woodward Canyon's Rick Small. And while we covered some of the most famous regions and popular grape varieties in the wine world, we also went off the beaten path for exciting new content. Curious about up-and-coming wine regions? Check out this primer on the wines of Israel. Want a peek behind the scenes of a Wine Spectator cover shoot? We've got you covered.
But which videos got the most love this year? Our list of the top videos of 2016 includes useful quick tips from winemakers and sommeliers, the 2016 reader-submitted Video Contest winner, the Wine of the Year, and a very special Wine Experience appearance from a rock 'n' roll legend. Did your favorite video make the cut?
Wine of the Year 2016
As usual, Wine Spectator’s Top 10 Wines of the year were among our most popular videos, with wine lovers from around the world eager to find out how and why our editors chose the most exciting wines. Our No. 1 wine for 2016 came from Lewis Cellars in Napa Valley, where Randy and Debbie Lewis have been making expressive wines for more than 20 years. But before the husband-and-wife duo were partners in winemaking, they were partners in race-car driving, with Randy behind the wheel and Debbie managing the race crew. Though Randy never quite made it to the winner's circle at the Indy 500, the Lewises have taken the top spot in wine with their opulent 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon (95 points, $90), which typifies modern winemaking. According to senior editor James Laube, people will be talking about this wine for a long time. Check out the full set of videos for all Top 10 wines of 2016, and learn how Wine Spectator chooses the Top 100.
Video Contest 2016 Winner: A Nebbiolo's Story
Produced by newlyweds Julian and Camille Broderick Rodier and set in scenic Piedmont, this year's winner features winemaker Giuseppe Vaira of G.D. Vajra winery, who tells a story of the commitment and fulfillment involved in making the ethereal wines that Nebbiolo can produce. Taking second place was "I Wish You Were Here with Me," a blend of poetry and artistic videography from renowned Italian viticulturist Marco Simonit, who paid tribute to his native Friuli region. Take a look at the entire lineup and get inspiration for submitting your own entry in 2017.
I Know I'm Tasting a Great Pinot Noir When…
Ever since its big-screen debut in the movie Sideways, Pinot Noir has been one of the most popular grapes in the United States. It's no wonder that one of our most popular videos of 2016 was this quick tip with Luisa Ponzi, winemaker at Ponzi Vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley. Find out how she can tell when she's drinking a really great Pinot.
What's Your Budget?—Somm Tip
Top sommeliers with Restaurant Award–winning wine lists—including Patrick Cappiello of Rebelle and Avi Turgeman of Nice Matin—give wallet-friendly tips on how to order a wine you'll love while dining out.
Should You Smell the Cork?
From discussions over TCA-free corks to Wine Spectator's April Fool's prank, corks have been a popular topic this year. In this video, Anne Moller-Racke, president of Donum Estate in California, weighs in on the divisive question of what to do immediately after opening a bottle: to smell the cork, or not to smell the cork?
Cork vs. Screwcap: Why Domaine Laroche Went Back to Cork
Ten years ago, Domaine Laroche decided to bottle its entire range of Chablis under screwcaps to keep wines fresh and prevent taint. So why switch back? Get the key reasons from winemaker Grégory Viennois as he chats with Wine Spectator senior editor Bruce Sanderson.
Quick Tip: Finding Values in Bordeaux
Bordeaux reds are some of the most sought-after wines in the world (with price tags to match), so it's no surprise that viewers were drawn to this video. How can you find red Bordeaux values? Find out as senior editor James Molesworth shares his favorite tips.
Why Use Egg-Shaped Tanks?
This may be a slightly nerdy video, but viewers were intrigued by the concrete philosophy behind Familia Zuccardi's oblong tanks. Winemaker Sebastián Zuccardi gave us the scoop on how the tanks' advantages help better express the terroir at this Mendoza, Argentina, winery.
Quick Tip: How to Pronounce Alsace Grape Names
Some of the grape names in this French region may be tongue-twisters, but the wines are certainly delicious. Get a crash course in pronunciation with vintner Jean-Fréderic Hugel and his father, Étienne, who passed away not long after this video was filmed. Wine Spectator misses his dedication, charm and sense of humor.
Chenin Blanc vs. Pinotage Challenge
What happens when two winemakers from South Africa's Stellenbosch region match wits while describing their favorite varietals? Viewers loved the vinous battle between Carl Van Der Merwe of De Morgenzon and Abrie Beeslaar from Kanonkop.
Sting and Trudie Styler's Message in a Bottle
When Sting took the stage after his wife, Trudie Styler, presented their flagship red, Il Palagio Sister Moon, the crowd (and the Internet) went wild. Learn more about the rockstar Tuscan winery and stay tuned for the surprise that brought down the house at the 2016 Wine Experience.
Lettuce Farmer to Pinot Star, The Irrepressible Gary Pisoni
Some folks called Gary Pisoni crazy when he started growing grapes in Salinas, Calif., which is now part of the up-and-coming Santa Lucia Highlands AVA. Crazy or brilliant, you can't help smiling along with Pisoni's boisterous personality as he tells his story at the 2015 New York Wine Experience.
Nebbiolo Perfection with Pietro Ratti
"Nebbiolo is the best grape in the world,” says Pietro Ratti, owner of Piedmont's Renato Ratti winery, at the 2015 Wine Experience. And Barolo is the perfect place for Nebbiolo. Learn more about this Italian appellation and its wines as Ratti describes his intense Barolo Rocche dell'Annunziata 2010.
Star Chef Challenge: Pairing José Andrés' Piquillo Confit, Crab & Trout Roe
The Star Chef Challenge is always a favorite at the New York Wine Experience, and 2015's seminar did not disappoint. In this video, we get a taste of chef José Andrés' Spanish-influenced cooking with a side of his oversized personality and humor. Can you guess which wine pairs better with his dish: Chef Michael Lomonaco's choice, Occhipinti Frappato from Sicily, or Thomas Matthews' Delas Condrieu from the Rhône? The competition carried on with chef Michael Lomonaco's beef duo, Emeril Lagasse's caviar potato salad and Danny Meyer's roasted pumpkin custard (made by chef Abram Bissell).