Part I on Feb. 17 explored the whys and wherefores of sweet red's growth.
Talk to any wine drinker -- even experienced ones -- and one of the adjectives they always use is smooth. "That's a smooth wine." "I want to buy a smooth red wine." And that, in one word, is what sweet red wine delivers -- and what the seemingly infinite number of new sweet reds is trying to capitalize on.
Because the red wine that most of us drink isn't smooth. It's tannic, sometimes bitterly so. It can be harshly acidic. And some of it, despite the advances in wine technology, can be unpleasantly green -- tasting of unripe fruit or smelling of bell pepper. We can argue whether smooth is a legitimate quality for a wine (I think balance is a better term), but that's what consumers are looking for.
And what happens when sugar is added to red wine? The bitter tannins get covered up. The harsh acidity is blended away. And that unpleasant green disappears. It becomes, as one blurb for Apothic Red calls the wine, "smooth."
After the jump, tasting notes for six sweet reds and a few thoughts about how these wines are made and how to tell how sweet they are.