It’s been a while since I’ve gathered up a bunch of sweet wine news articles for you, so here goes:
- One of the most prestigious sweet wines in the world, Sauternes, has been in the news lately. If you’ve ever wondered what to pair with a Sauternes, there’s an answer waiting for you if you click the link.
- Speaking of Sauternes, its part of a small and elite group of wines from around the world made with grapes affected by botrytis cinerea, which sounds like some sort of nasty disease or digestive disorder. Well, it actually is a disease of sorts. More specifically, it’s a fungus that affects wine grapes in certain special places under certain special conditions. The fungus is often called noble rot, probably because it sounds a little less disgusting. Anyway, if you’d like to know more about it, check out this article which attempts to demystify the word botrytis.
- Decanter notes that the Spanish winemakers in Rioja have found another use for their noble grape, Tempranillo. They’ve decided to let a few grapes hang on the vine late into the season, causing them to become affected with, you guessed it, noble rot. In addition to Tempranillo, they’re using botrytised Graciano, Garnacha (a/k/a Grenache), Mazuelo and Viura to produced reasonably priced white and rosé dessert wines. Considering how good the region’s $14 bottles of Rioja are, I’m betting their similarly priced sweet wines will be fantastic.
- World-renowned Master of Wine Jancis Robinson recently took a trip to Australian where she apparently almost drowned in sweet wines. In case you weren’t aware, Australians produce some of the finest dessert wines in the world. They call them “stickies” down under, probably because the amount of sugar they contain is just about enough to glue your insides together. Check out her brief account of the tasting in the Financial Times, which contains some commentary on recent changes in Australia’s sweet wine labeling laws.
- Ms. Robinson also recently discussed the grey area between “dry” and “sweet” wines on her website. People love to hate such wines, but she takes a rather analytical perspective. Ms. Robinson notes the main reason some of the world’s better “medium sweet” wines contain high amounts of sugar is to counteract high acidity (i.e. sourness), which would be overpowering without the sweetness. Yes, there are winemakers who produce very cheap and nondescript wines which are only palatable if they’re made with an extra dose of sugar, but she concludes by telling readers to keep an open mind about sweetness in your wine. Buying wines that are only dry could cause you to miss out on some amazing libations, especially from traditionally cool grape-growing regions like Alsace and Mosel. She also gives quite a few suggestions for “medium dry” and “medium sweet” wines that you should try.
- The Montreal Gazette published a story extolling the virtues of sweet wine. The fairly lengthy article does a good job of surveying the various types of sweet wine you’re likely to encounter and even gives some recommended purchases. Definitely worth the read.
- Freelance journalist Alex Halberstadt’s recent article questions why there’s so little love for sweet wine in the US. It’s an incredibly well-written piece that discusses the virtues of sugary wine and waxes nostalgic about some of his most memorable sweet wine moments. If you only read one of these articles, this should be the one.
- Finally, I just don’t get it. Why are people buying this chocolate wine concoction? Don’t get me wrong, I love sweet wine and I love winemakers who are willing to experiment, but this stuff goes over the line. It’s like something from a Mary Shelley novel, which I guess is appropriate since the Brits apparently bought 10,000 cases of the stuff on Valentine’s day.