While it’s true that Boomers and Gen Xers still make up the largest percentage of wine drinkers in the United States (Wine-Searcher.com cites a 2020 study stating that 36.7% of wine purchased in the US is bought by Boomers, while Gen X buys 34.9%), Millennials are rapidly catching up (they were responsible for 20.1% of wine sales in 2020). For that reason, many Millennial wine enthusiasts believe that wine culture and the wine industry needs to adopt a more inclusionary attitude toward these younger drinkers.
One such Millennial is Xingyu Chen, a WSET-certified wine expert whose bottle recommendations can be found on her mega-successful Instagram account @winememoir and on her WineMemoir blog. Xingyu tells us that she launched WineMemoir five years ago because “I saw a huge gap between the producers and consumers. No one in the industry was talking to the younger generation in a language they would understand.” Xingyu decided to “bridge the communication gap by doing it in my unique way—combining photography with artful tasting notes and let the photo tell the story!”
We asked Xingyu to choose a few of her favorite wines for the summer season, and she gave us the following amazing recs to enjoy during this time of year, whether you’re hosting a dinner party or hanging out in the park on a warm afternoon.
Favorite Bottle of All Time: Bernard Baudry Chinon Les Grezeaux 2017 ($30)
For her absolute favorite bottle of wine, Xingyu chose a Cabernet Franc from the Chinon region of France’s Loire Valley, which can be purchased at a highly-reasonable rate. “If I can only choose one Chinon to drink, it’s going to be Bernard Baudry. It is unquestionably one of the most outstanding producers and you would have a hard time finding a Chinon more classic than theirs,” Xingyu explains. She attributes this bottle’s excellence to the “diversity of soils” in the area: “They harvest and vinify fruits from each plot separately, applying different techniques to every single cru.” The end result? A wine with “an elegant profile and a round mouthfeel, dense yet silky, with sharp minerality. It can easily age for 10+ years! This is the kind of Chinon you don’t need to think twice about!”
Favorite Value Bottle: Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir 2014 ($42)
Avid wine consumers know that “value” is in the eye of the beholder. Even if a bottle isn’t the cheapest on the shelf, it can still represent a remarkable bargain, particularly if it’s below market for a certain varietal or wine region. That’s why Xingyu calls Cristom Mt. Jefferson Cuvée Pinot Noir 2014 “one of my go-to great-value Oregon Pinot Noirs.” She describes this wine as having a “classic and refined Willamette profile,” characterized by flavors of “fresh strawberry and cranberry upfront [which] carry through till the end, with dried leaves, herbal tea, and wet stone in the background. Quite earthy towards the finish with bright acidity and alluring spiciness.” Xingyu considers this bottle a highly versatile purchase, telling us that it’s a perfect wine for everyday drinking and all occasions!”
Favorite Bottle To Bring To A Party: Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé ($85)
It’s hard to imagine a more party-friendly wine than Champagne, and Xingyu especially recommends Billecart-Salmon’s rosé version for festive occasions. “This rosé is delicate, fresh and pure, and it can go with fancy hors d’oeuvres or simply guac and chips!” she insists.
Favorite Bottle To Pair With Food: Novaia Le Balze Amarone Della Valpolicella 2013 ($54)
Rich, robust, and full of personality, Amarone della Valpolicella is the pride of Italy’s Veneto region. Like most other Italian wines, this style collaborates beautifully with food, and Xingyu credits Novaia Le Balze Amarone’s “intense aromas of dark berries, spices and dry figs, with alluring floral notes” and flavors of “caramelized honey and dry fruits” for its food-friendliness, and she tells us that she loves to pair this wine with “honey glazed lamb leg with cumin and rosemary!” Xingyu also suggests “decanting [this wine] in a large carafe for a few hours before serving to bring out the finesse and structure. It should age nicely, but it drinks pretty well now!”
Favorite Seasonal Bottle For Late Spring/Early Summer: Dominio del Plata Susana Balbo Signature Rosé ($21)
For her seasonal pick, Xingyu went with a wine crafted by one of her favorite Argentinian winemakers, Susana Balbo. “Over several decades of winemaking in Argentina, Susana has earned a reputation for pioneering spirit and innovation,” Xingyu says. She calls the Signature Rosé “an elegant wine, well-balanced and crisp, that seduces because of its very light pink, red onion peel, salmon color.” She likes this wine for the late spring and early summer because
It “has fresh, citric, mineral and sweet red berry aromas, along with a well-textured palate that offers juicy strawberry and cranberry flavors and a persistent finish.”
Taylor Tobin is a Brooklyn-based food, beverage, and lifestyle journalist with bylines at HuffPost, Insider, Wine Enthusiast, Observer, and Chilled Magazine, among others. When she isn’t eating, drinking, or writing, she enjoys riding her bike, hanging out with her dog Marty, and watching reality shows (the sillier, the better!). Twitter: @teetobes. Instagram: @tee_tobes