Tom's blog

Jammy red wines just won't go away

I naively thought that American wine masters were turning away from the extracted, ripe fruit bombs. Alas, I am wrong.

If there is one characteristic that separates American red wines from their Old World counterparts, it's that there is little that is refined and unoaked. While Bordeaux and Burgundy, for instance, produce delicate, sensual red wines, many large producers in California, Oregon and Australia prefer to impress you with residual sugar, lots of alcohol and robust, jammy fruit flavors. Sadly, it's what American consumers seem to want.

Just look at the success of Gallo's Apothic Wines or Meiomi pinot noir, Menage et Tois, and a host of zinfandels that leave considerable sugar in their wines to give them a roundness and disguise what is often a poor wine. Apothic has even introduced a new wine -- Brew -- that infuses cold-brew coffee into a motley collection of red grape varieties. You could spread it on toast and serve it with your morning coffee. Other wines sport names that broadcast their style: Big Smooth and Double Black are two I recently tasted. 

It has been known for decades that Americans have a Coca-Cola palate even though most consumers profess to like dry wines. Residual sugar covers tannin and other acids many find offensive, but they also disguise inferior grapes.  Rarely do these sweet concoctions come from sub-appellations. That's why they are cheap and unfortunately so sweet that they can't possibly complement any food besides cake.