I said it in both of my books, but I guess I like saying it, because I’m going to say it again: I have no idea how or why off-dry wines became so unhip, but they absolutely shouldn’t be.
Call it the Annie Green Springs or Boone’s Farm backlash. Yes, even though I wasn’t yet of drinking age, I remember sipping those soda pop-y wines from adult glasses way back then. And I remember enjoying them. And I was far from alone, because those wines were HUGE.
Maybe they got too huge. Because somewhere along the way, it became very uncool to admit to liking wine with even a hint of sweetness. And in fact, I’ve heard from wine marketers that if you ask average wine drinkers what kind of wine they prefer, they’ll say dry. But if you give them two wines to taste and ask which they prefer, chances are they’ll choose the one that’s slightly sweet. I’m not talking about a sweet or dessert wine, mind you, but one that has just a touch of sugar to balance out the acidity and/or tannins, or bitterness, in a wine.
In short, I’m talking about an off-dry wine. Wines like Riesling, Gewürztraminer, and Rosé, which are sometimes bone dry, but often they aren’t – they have just a bit of sweetness.
And here’s why that’s actually very cool. Not only can an off-dry wine be more pleasant to drink, but it often goes better with food. Why? Because many so-called savory dishes, like barbecued chicken or pork chops with applesauce, have a touch of sweetness. And, just like if you pair a sweet dessert with a dry wine, it can make the wine taste ridiculously sour, if you pair a slightly sweet food with a dry wine, it can make the wine taste slightly sour. Either way, yuck.
Better, then, to pair a slightly sweet food with a slightly sweet wine that’ll complement it. An off-dry wine.
Some of my favorite slightly sweet food and off-dry wine combinations for summer? Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa and Riesling. Sticky Asian Baby Back Ribs and Gewürztraminer. Barbecued Chicken Pizza and Rosé. (Yes, these are all dishes from my cookbooks.)
Fact is, many of today’s hippest cuisines – Thai, Latin, Indian, Moroccan – have elements of sweetness, or spiciness, that make them ideal for off-dry wines.
You’d be very cool to check them out.
P.S. I have no idea why my last post – about my Dad, grilling, and Father’s Day – didn’t register with Feedburner and didn’t get sent out. If you’d like to read it, here it is.