In Defense of Sweet Wine

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

Despite my recent diatribe about the cloyingly sweet and nasty wine from my youth (pronounced ‘yute’ in my best “My Cousin Vinny” manner) I have largely been irritated with people who sneer at any sweet wine.

Via Wikipedia by User:Smb1001

Via Wikipedia by User:Smb1001

When did sweet become bad? Our bodies are designed to find sweet appealing. Indeed, almost universally, sweetness has been associated with pleasure. Yet, when it comes to wine sweet has become synonymous with inferiority. But are sweet wines really inferior?

The answer is simple. Like everything else, it depends. Are you drinking Ripple or Canei? Or Chateau d’Yquem?

They all are sweet. Only one is quality wine. Can you guess which?

Ripple and related brands were an outgrowth of Prohibition which led to binge drinking as entertainment (just proof that so-called adults can’t resist snubbing their nose at authority any more than teenagers can). High alcohol fortified wines were produced cheaply and sold relatively (by bootlegging standards) so. Unfortunately, after Prohibition was over, they became the wine standard in the U.S. Because they were inexpensive, they became associated with the poor, the underaged and college students…  Wine for people looking for a buzz.

German and Alsatian wines were as varied as any other wine became painted with the “cheap and inferior” label due to the proliferation and marketing of low-quality mass produced wines such as Liebfraumilch (which itself was a venerable German wine produced by the vineyards of the Church of Our Lady in Worms who’s reputation was destroyed by association).

Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Gewurtztraminer all came to be seen as varietals that produced low quality, sweet wines. Do they deserve this reputation? It depends. The German government has changed their standards that designate what a quality wine is. They measure potential alcohol which is a measure of sugar. This does NOT necessarily translate into sweetness. Wines with balanced acid contents may even be perceived of as “dry”. And these new German wines have become very popular.

Too often I have heard people who claim to love wine turn their nose at wines with any lingering sweetness. Why? I suppose because it is not currently in vogue. But this is not always been the case. As for the other sweet wines? Ports, sherries, sauternes, tokaj’s, passito.. These can all be high quality wines who’s merits shouldn’t be judged by its sweetness.

So you don’t like sweet wine? Ok. Drink what you like. You will get no complaint from me. Particularly since you are leaving more of these jewels for me. I will try not to be too smug while you regale me with tales of things that you WON’T even try. After all, you left more for me to enjoy. But don’t denigrate their quality because of your personal opinion.

Canei Go Home Again?

Gretchen Neuman
VinoVerve Editor

While most kids in high school were trying to get someone to buy them beer, I was that weird kid drinking wine.

The wine I was drinking was about the same level of quality as their beer, but I didn’t care. I was drinking real wine. From Italy. It was imported. And it was advertised on the radio. In the Buffalo area, where I grew up the ads were voiced by Danny Neaverth a long-time Buffalo radio god.

The ads?

Canei?* Yes, You Can!

*(pronounced like Can I)

Oh it was Klassy! It even had a screw top making it super convenient for the teenaged Gretchen.

I drank this wine as I moved into my college years (where it was actually not entirely too awful with the Thai food we ordered from Tipsuda (sadly, long gone!)

Why mention this?

Well, yesterday, while on a quest for a new hydrometer (people keep breaking them which I find annoying) and the liquor store that I visited to replace the broken equipment, there it was.  A bottle of Canei.  I haven’t seen a bottle of it in years.  It was calling me.  Like a siren’s song.

So we bought a bottle and brought it home and poured it while eating a Giordano’s Pizza (another 1985 pairing).

And like the siren’s song, the Canei dashed me on the rocks.

OMG.  It sucked.  SUCKED.No I Can't (stomach it anymore)
What was teenaged me thinking?  I don’t know.  I was 19.  I didn’t know any better and it was my introduction to buying wine.

Clearly, my taste buds have moved on.  And we ditched the Canei and opened a dry rosé instead.

So Canei go home again?  No, I can’t.

And I am guessing that the Ruinite and ice won’t be nice.

Doesn’t it figure?

I get a chance to try something unique wine-wise and I have no camera on me. or note pad.

We were finishing up basket for the evening. One of the girls is in the midst of a tournament.. on that will continue on to next weekend…sigh.

After the game we headed over to the house of friends that live near the high school hosting the tournament. We brought them a lovely Albarino that we had had during a 777 event at David Burke’s Primehouse

We never got to crack it open though, because Tom had a bottle waiting for us. A German red wine! When it was poured, it reminded me of the German Pinot Noir’s that Kevin and I had seen at last year’s Pinot Days. But this wine held one more surprise for us.

It was sweet.

Not a cloying sweet that you sometimes get with German whites. But fruity and full with an earthy smell.

Now the bad part. Between chatting and playing with babies, I forgot to write down the name of the wine! D’oh! What was I thinking. Unfortunately, I can say that I wasn’t.

Mea culpa to you all out there! I let the fun overcome my sense wine bloggership.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!