Just Desserts!

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Just Desserts!

Just Desserts!

This is an article that might make Michelle Obama draw a red circle around Colorado, not because we are a battle ground state but because the skinniest state in the Union has jumped on the sweet band wagon. It is not enough that American’s drink more soda than they do tap water and that sugar in one form or another is found in almost all our processed foods, no today we have wines that advertise that they are sweet and we can’t get enough of them!

In the 1980s Helen Girly Brown instructed Cosmo Girls to drink white wine as a cocktail because it’s relatively low in alcohol (12%) and the lack of residual sugar (most table wines contain less than 6 grams of sugar per liter) made it the low calorie sophisticated drink. The white wine revolution was born and at cocktail parties no one dare ask for a sweet wine. But this wasn’t always the case, for centuries the best dessert wines of Europe Tokay from Hungary, German Rieslings and French Sauternes were the most desirable for the “want-to-be” rulers of Russia or the Far East far out stripping the dry wines of Bordeaux or Chianti. Ironically, while Cosmopolitan was exhorting the virtues of dry white wine, the best-selling wine in the US was Blue Nun, a Liebfraumilch with notable fruitiness.

In the 1991 we had the “French Paradox” the 60 Minute episode that asked if the French eat a diet rich in fat why don’t they have high cholesterol like Americans, one of the factors, resveratrol found in red wine. People who drank no wine walked into their local liquor store and asked for red wine, “because it is good for my heart,” they said. I happen to know because I witnessed this many times, they asked for sweet red wine and outside of some Concord wines, found virtually none.

As the wine revolution swept America in the last decade of the 20th century Americans drank a lot of red wine, about 2 to 1 Red versus White and they became very enamored of densely fruited highly concentrated red wines. These California or Australian “lotsa” wines as a winemaker friend calls them are easy to make, you leave 8-10 grams of residual sugar and the wine tastes richer. No expensive oak barrels, you don’t have to wait for that super ripe year, you can have these wines all the time. He made wines for Folie a Deux and put a healthy dollop of Late Harvest Zinfandel in the blend and made sure it wasn’t fermented to dryness. It caught on like wild fire; in fact the winery was purchased by the Trinchero Family, the makers of Sutter Home. And other industry heavyweights have noticed the trend as well; Gallo is in the game as is the Wine Group (makers of Franzia Box Wines).

Today we have wine labels that unabashedly say sweet on the label (some are recommended below) and consumers are picking them up as soon as they get to the shelf. What makes for a delicious sweet wine? Balance, complexity, flavors that are appealing not just sweet and acidity that makes for a clean, not a cloying finish. What do you do with these wines-drink them! They are fun on ice, very cold, with soda and a twist, or with fruits a la Sangria. It is fun to see Coloradoans drinking what they want and enjoying it!

 

Sweet Bliss Red Washington State $10-11
A blend of Barbara, Syrah, and Sangiovese and made by a burgundian wine maker, here is a sweet red that is fresh and tastes of chocolate covered cherries.

Kitchen Sink Moscato California $9-10
Moscato is a grape so perfumed it seems almost unnatural. The explosive exotic aromas remind you of kiwi fruit, lychee nuts, and tangerines. A terrific party wine.

Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling Washington State $10-11
Riesling has the highest natural acidity of wine grapes and so it is one of the best wines to make “lemonade” lively fruity and zippy acidity, by itself or with a fruit pastry dessert this is just plain delicious.

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