Am I wrong to like sweet wines?

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7 December
11:06
December
2016

Nothing’s wrong when it comes to wine. Everybody puts the expert on a pedestal, but it’s your taste that counts - wine is a subjective thing. The key is to like what you like and understand it. If you like Chardonnay, try different and better ones, exploring the category you like until you find the best.

And it depends on what’s meant by ‘sweet’. Within that category there’s a huge spectrum, from ‘off’ dry which has a mild sweetness, to medium dry, then medium sweet, right through to full-on sweet wine. To find the right level for you, go to the extreme then work backwards. People often find that a little sweetness in an off dry or medium dry wine works for them. It’s not dry and it’s not sweet, it’s that weird taste in the middle and it pronounces the fruit flavours, making it taste more candied. Those are flavours we don’t come into contact with in our day to day lives, and they can be a revelation.

There are also luscious wines – Sauterne and Loire Valley Chenin Blanc – which have been through a process known as ‘noble rot’, increasing the concentration of sugars in the grape. It’s a form of fungus that forms on the fruit and pierces the skin, making the water inside evaporate and the sugars become more concentrated. The effect is marmaladey, and it’s delicious.

In the 70s there was a huge craze for Blue Nun, an off dry white with generic, undefined flavours, no complexity and a short finish. If you look on the back of the bottle it says it’s from the European Union, which means they use grapes from anywhere in Europe - so not great quality. But there’s a similar wine called Mosel Riesling that’s way better - highly acidic, fruity and refreshing. A really fantastic wine to drink as an aperitif.

It’s not sweet wine that’s the problem, but bad winemaking. Technology has improved dramatically in the last few years, so there’s no excuse for bad winemaking. So if you like sweet wines, avoid the low value American bulk wines like Blossom Hill and Gallo – while some are great, many are too generic. And there are so many better wines out there to satisfy your sweet tooth.

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