This article was published in The 30 Second Wine Advisor on Friday, Apr. 4, 2008 and can be found at http://www.wineloverspage.com/wineadvisor2/tswa20080404.php.
A sweet kiss
Even if we grant that most people reading this article are likely to reverse this ratio, the numbers speak volumes about American tastes - not to mention most of the rest of the world, which may trail the U.S. but still puts away sugary soft drinks by the tank-car load.
All of which makes it seem a little odd that there's not more good, sweet table wine around. Dessert wines, sure, but quality Sauternes and Port are mighty pricey, and with limited exceptions that keep sommeliers in business, they're not the kind of thing you open with dinner. And of course there's plenty of bad cheap sweet wine.
But excepting much of the range of Riesling in the German style and a few good Chenin Blancs, quality, affordable off-dry to sweet wines that serve well at the dinner table are thin on the ground. This leaves open a market niche that - if my Email is any indication - goes largely unfilled.
I've reported occasionally on Adesso 2006 Cagnina di Romagna, a sweet red wine from Emilia-Romagna, the food-loving region around Bologna in Italy, that my old friend, the late John Given, used to import in modest amounts.
The other day I ran into Cagnina's delicious fraternal twin, the white Albana di Romagna, which John's New York-based firm continues to import. Labeled "Baciami" (Italian for "Kiss me"), this Emilia-Romagna white fills a niche in the white-wine category parallel to the Adesso red from the same firm: It's distinctly sweet, but it's a fresh, not-cloying sweetness that goes as well with food as, say, a Sprite or a 7-Up for grown-ups.
Says the John Given Wines Co. Website: " ... what could be more appropriate than the 'kiss' of this sweet little wine, a wine that has quite a history. According to the story, when the Roman Princess Galla Placida first tasted this in AD 382, she declared that this wine was so smooth it 'should be drunk in gold.' ... We'd say: if you don't have a gold cup to drink it in, don't worry - a simple wine glass will do just as well!"
Baciami 2006 Albana di Romagna ($11)
Clear, rather bright gold color. Attractively fruity aroma, fresh peaches on the first aroma impression, with a more subtle apricot note and something simply floral like honeysuckle joining in as you swirl and sniff. The tutti-frutti aromas hint at sweetness to follow, and there's certainly fresh-fruit sweetness here, but it's gentle, not syrupy, with crisp acidity keeping the balance on the quenching side. Clean, fresh and long, quaffable at just 9% alcohol. You probably couldn't call this a "serious" white, but it's mighty easy to like, and works and plays very well indeed with good things to eat. U.S. importer: John Given Wines Co., Manhasset, N.Y. (March 25, 2008)
FOOD MATCH: Chicken pot pie with fresh veggies and herbs - a simple revelation, fruit and gentle sweetness with mellow comfort flavors.
VALUE: As a pleasant change of pace, this one's worth buying in quantity for spring and summer sipping. Look for retailer discounts as low as $10.
WHEN TO DRINK: Delicious and ready for immediate consumption, but if you're experimentally inclined, its good balance of fruit, gentle sweetness and acidity could develop additional richness with a few years' cellar time.
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