Mark Aselstine
October 10, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Sweet Red Wine


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One thing which has been a very positive development within the wine industry of late, is greater education for the general public about wine. As I think we all have experienced, the more education or understanding you have of something, the more comfortable you generally are at sharing your opinion and choosing what you like best, instead of what you’re suppose to like.

In that vein, the San Francisco Chronicle had an article about how sweet red wine is making a comeback with wine drinkers.

For a long time, sweet wines have gotten a bad rap as something that only people who don’t know anything about wine like to drink.

I feel like I’ve spent a lot of time in this space discussing the concept of late, but getting people drinking wine (from the industry’s perspective) is much more important than the type of wine they drink. Someone who likes sweet red wine and drinks it consistently will be more likely to try a dry table wine in the future than someone who only drinks beer.

With all that being said, there are a few grapes which produce slightly sweet wines under normal fermentation conditions. Roussane and Marsanne blends are a good example and when we’ve poured such a wine at tasting events the results are mixed. Some people are completely turned off by the touch of residual sugar, while others tend to enjoy it quite a bit. In the end, these wines typically sell well so I’m sure a sweet red would do just as well.

Lastly, do I think the industry is going to move back to large scale sweet red wine production like the American wine industry was during the two decades right after Prohibition? No. I do think that bringing an increasing diverse range of wines to the marketplace is good for consumers. If you take regional examples, many people would argue that California’s willingness to let vintners experiment is one of the reasons why the state has undergone such dramatic improvements in both quality and quantity of wine crafted within its borders.


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