This edition of Ask the WC: Why are so many dry red wines sweet, plus understanding varietal character and counterfeiting cheap wine
Because the customers always have questions, and the Wine Curmudgeon has answers in this irregular feature. You can Ask the Wine Curmudgeon a wine-related question by clicking here.
Dear Wine Curmudgeon:
I bought a Spanish red wine from Campo Viejo the other day, and it was really sweet. I thought it was supposed to be dry. What’s going on?
Sick of sugar
Welcome to the scourge that is sweet wine labeled as dry — mostly with reds, but also with some whites. I wrote about it here, and the situation keeps getting worse. A leading Dallas retailer told me a couple of weeks ago that it’s part of the plan to get Millennials to drink wine, and he agreed with me: it’s a stupid idea. I also talked about this with a younger man who works for one of the biggest distributors in the country, and he thought the whole thing was pretty funny. If I’m already drinking cocktails or craft beer, why am I going to switch to wine because it’s sweet?
I consider myself a fairly typical wine drinker. I buy a wine a second time based on how much I liked it and how much it costs. I have no idea if something is “varietally correct” and to be honest I have no idea what a chardonnay is “supposed” to taste like. I just like what I like.
A typical wine drinker
That’s a fine approach as far as it goes. But if you want to take the next step and get even more value for your money, then you should learn about things like varietal correctness and what a chardonnay is supposed to taste like. Otherwise, all wine tastes the same, and what’s the point of that? One of the things I love about wine is the differences, and how grapes can taste so many different ways.
I saw something on the Internet the other day that wine fraud is a super serious problem affecting wine at all prices. Do I need to start worrying about it for the wine you write about?
Concerned about counterfeits
No need to worry. This is another of those Winestream Media stories made to sound like it matters, but really doesn’t. Most counterfeiting is for expensive or rare wines that most of us will never see in a store, let alone buy. There’s no money in counterfeiting cheap wine because so much of it is made. It’s the same reason no one counterfeits dollar bills, but does $20s and $100s instead. If it costs $5 to make a phony bottle of wine, what pays more? Counterfeiting a $10 bottle or a $500 bottle?
More Ask the Wine Curmudgeon:
• Ask the WC 17: Restaurant-only wines, local wine, rose prices
• Ask the WC 16: Grocery store wine, Millennials, canned wine
• Ask the WC 15: Wine consumption, wine refrigerators, wine tastings