Wine Questionary:

Sweet wines for those who don't like 'dry'?

It's surprising how many people ask me to recommend an inexpensive everyday wine that's sweet.

This is not as simple as it seems. You see, most fine table wines are "dry" (unsweet), because wine is intended as a beverage to be drunk with food, and in that setting, dry wines seem to work best. Dry wine is an "acquired taste," though, one that it takes some experience to get used to. Sort of like coffee, which most people think tastes horrible when they first drink it but later come to enjoy.

If you're sipping wine by itself, like a cocktail, it's not surprising that it may seem a little tart, sour or even bitter. So one approach is to continue trying to develop your taste for traditional dry wines, but do this by serving your wine with appropriate food - beef or lamb with dry red wines, seafood and fish with whites.

It might also be that wine is just not your drink, and there's no shame in that.

And there are some sweet wines, ranging from very expensive (dessert wines like Port and Sauternes, for example) to quite modest. You'll also find "pop wines" like the Italian Lambrusco, which is slightly fizzy and quite sweet, or White Zinfandel, a sweetish pink wine that finds more favor among casual sippers than serious wine fanciers.

One more good alternative for people who really can't warm up to dry wines is the amazing world of German wines. The great white wines from the Rhine and Mosel valleys, most often made from the Riesling grape, are almost always at least slightly sweet, but it's a gentle flavor, more like the snappy sweetness of fresh fruit than the syrupy sugar of a candy bar. If you're giving up on wine because you need a little sugar in your life, give German wines a try.

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