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Sweet wine a sweet deal for consumers and producers alike

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There’s no getting around it. Sweet wines are everywhere these days.

And I’m not talking about wines that are generally that way, like some German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

Moscatos or Muscatos are everywhere. People are drinking sweet reds like they’ve never been drunk before — well, since a century or two ago when wine was judged by its palatability in the people’s tastes of those days, meaning the best wines were thought to be sweet.

We’ve certainly taken a departure since that time, but as they say — whoever ‘they’ are — things often come full circle, or everything old is new again. And sweet wines, particularly sweet reds, have been inundating the market, and they’re selling like hotcakes.

Perhaps the most popular is California’s Apothic Red, which is beloved by at least 75 per cent of the people I know. At $14.99, it’s affordable, it appeals to women and men alike, and it works well both to sip and with food.

Same goes for Inception Deep Layered Red, a South African product that’s the same price as Apothic, and probably just as sweet, but is slightly more nuanced and layered. Only a person’s tastes will tell, though, so try both and pick the one that most appeals to you.

The prevailing ‘wisdom’ is that bottle labels often proclaim their contents to be dry, while in some cases, they’re not dry at all — which leads to people thinking they’re drinking dry wine when they’re actually drinking wine that’s quite sweet.

But the bottom line is that these days, to a huge majority of consumers, sweet sells. I was amazed by the number of men I overheard at the Winnipeg Wine Festival in May asking pourers for something sweet.

And it’s a trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Many producers are understandably jumping on the bandwagon and are coming up with blends that are sure to appeal to the mass market.

There’s pride of craft, which many winemakers and wineries thankfully still have, and then there’s the nitty-gritty — dollars and cents, or perhaps I should say ‘sense.’ There’s no point making a wine if it’s not making money. And if something is making money, well, it’s only logical to try and snag some of that traffic for yourself.

In fact, because of this latest trend — it’s definitely more than a fad, I think — manufacturers are now proclaiming the sweetness of their wines right on the bottle in order to lure customers to their products.

A case in point: the Zuccardi Malamado Malbec from Argentina. This rich and intensely flavoured fortified wine showcases plum, fig and raisin along with nutty, spicy, and peppery qualities. The back label reads as follows:

"This Malamado Malbec is rich and fruity, with the chocolate, berry and violet characters of Malbec given a spirit [sic] kick by the fortification. It’s all balanced and harmonious. In the mouth, the flavours include notes of black pepper, dried figs, cinnamon, and toasted nuts. It’s a sweet wine with (a) long finish. A wonderful partner for chocolate cheesecake, wine backed [sic] (I think they meant wine-baked) apples with dates, or strong cheeses served with quince jelly and nuts."

Note that this is a fortified wine, like a sherry or port. The alcohol content is 19.5 per cent, whereas Apothic Red’s alcohol content is 13.1 per cent, and Inception’s is 14 per cent. It can still be drunk on its own as opposed to with food, but remember that the Malamado has half again as much kick as Apothic or Inception, so proceed with caution.

Certainly the Malamado can be used as a dessert wine, as the label indicates, but it’s still another indication that sweet wines are in demand. The Malamado sells for $24.44 at the Liquor Marts, and if you’re into this type of wine, it’s truly a treat.

And while sweet is not my cup of tea, as it were, I applaud those who follow their taste buds and ignore what others tell them is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ and continue drinking what they enjoy. Everyone’s palate is different, and everyone has the right to his or her opinion.

So sip on, sweet wine lovers. You are far, far from alone.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 12, 2014

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There’s no getting around it. Sweet wines are everywhere these days.

And I’m not talking about wines that are generally that way, like some German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

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There’s no getting around it. Sweet wines are everywhere these days.

And I’m not talking about wines that are generally that way, like some German Rieslings and Gewurztraminers.

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