Four things that would make wine more fun to drink

“Why didn’t the label say this was a sweet red wine?”

Four things that would make wine more fun to drink after a summer and fall spent traveling and tasting, because I really don’t want to have so many wine complaints:

? Better restaurant wine pricing. I mention this yet again not because I expect it to change, but because so few people in the restaurant business truly understand. I had a restaurateur approach me at a recent event to tell me how wonderful her wine list was. “We’re the only restaurant in this area that cares about wine,” she said. The list? Not awful, and even a couple of interesting bottles, but every wine, even the $8 Big Wine riesling, was marked up at least three times. This restaurant in a tiny town in Arizona was charging $40 for crappy grocery store wine, and the woman was proud of the list. How am I supposed to answer that?

? Back label honesty. I did a tasting this week for cheap holiday wines for a Dallas publication, and what struck me — besides how awful so many of the wines were — was how little the back label description had to do with what the wine tasted like. Soft, syrupy cabernet sauvignons without any tannins were described as elegant, while chardonnay made with so much fake oak that it hurt to swallow were said to be rich and full bodied. How about truth in labeling: “We made this wine to hit a certain price, and it really doesn’t taste like much, but what do you expect for $8?”

? If the wine is sweet, call it sweet. Why does the wine business insist on confusing consumers by leaving sweet off the label when the wine is sweet? I realize that the industry has taught “real” wine drinkers that sweet wine is inferior, and that only old ladies with cats drink it. But I’m tired of tasting wine labeled as dry that is sweet, and I have heard from many consumers who feel the same way. Besides, isn’t it possible that sweet wine labeled sweet would sell better?

? Lidl can’t get to the U.S.too soon. The German discount grocer, known for its quality cheap wines, broke ground on a U.S. distribution center last month, and should start opening stores in the next couple of years. If Lidl does wine in the U.S. the way it does in Europe, those of us who care about cheap wine will have an alternative to the wines in the second item in this post. Or, as my brother emailed me during a trip to Europe, “Love Lidl — great wine selection.”

For more on making wine more fun:
? Wine education: Four things you don’t need to know about wine
? Five things that make me crazy when I buy wine
? Five things the wine business can do to help consumers figure out wine

4 thoughts on “Four things that would make wine more fun to drink

  • By Matthew -

    Given how readily available wine preservation systems are these days, one would expect restaurant prices to drop.

    And on the subject of sweet wine: I work in a rather large wine and spirits shop in upstate NY and I cannot tell you how many people come in looking for sweet wine . . . almost as many that come in asking why California reds aren’t as dry as they used to be. The moral of the story, as you’ve mentioned before, is that some people want sweet and some want dry. We’d have happier customers (and more repeat business) if it was easy to tell the sweetness level before buying a bottle. I wish someone would standardize a sweetness scale for main-stream varietals–like the IRF has done for Riesling.

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -


      The riesling scale is one of the great inventions in wine. And the day that restaurants voluntarily lower prices is the day I consider the battle win and retite to Burgundy.

  • By Jay -


    i enjoy your site… and ranting can be fun…

    but….i feel the word sweet is not used on wine labels…

    Sweetness a.k.a Sweet is subjective..

    Subjective = personal perspective

    We are all made by different parents..
    We all have different tolerances for sugar and sweetness..

    – Jay

    • By Wine Curmudgeon -

      Thanks for the kind words. Yes, sweetness is subjective up to a point. But when the winemakers make wine, they can measure the residual sugar, and know that anything over .8 percent is going to taste sweet to most people. Apothic, the best known sweet red, is about 1.2 percent.

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