The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2012

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FROM THE EDITOR How Sweet It Is! T here's an old truism that everyone in the wine world has heard time and again: "Americans like to talk dry, but they like to drink sweet." I've noticed over the years that this is often true—think Mateus Rosé, Yago Sangria, Blue Nun, Reunite, White Zinfandel and now Moscato. Actually, that list is a succession of sweetish pop wines that, for many, were their big introduction to wine drinking. The logical progression was Coca-Cola, to pop wine to more and more serious (and drier) wines. That's the accepted scenario: from Coke to Cabernet in just a few years. As someone who tastes thousands of wines every year, I understand that entry-level wines tend to be simpler and sweeter. I understand that some wines are made for laying down, some for immediate drinking and some for those just trying to decide whether they like wine at all. But recently I have noticed something new. I'm seeing bottlings that look like "normal" wines, but are intentionally sweet. These are not varietals that are expected to be sweet—Riesling and other aromatic whites—but varietals such as Pinot Noir and Cabernet. Who drinks these wines? This is a diffi cult question, since many sweet wines use stealth techniques to blindside the consumer. Nowhere on the label does it say, "This wine is sweet." Are there code words that I'm missing? If people really like sweet wines, why do vintners who make sweet wines try to hide the fact? If people really like sweet wines, why cover it up? Shouldn't there be a standardized sweetness scale that could be featured on the back label of all popular-priced wines. The International Riesling Foundation has instituted an easy-to-use sweetness scale that shows up on members' bottles; why not something similar for all wines? The point is: There's nothing wrong with sweet wines, and there's nothing wrong with liking sweet wines. Why the fl im fl am? Let's be transparent and give consumers the facts that they need to make an informed decision. CONTRIBUTORS Jeremy Ball is a wine and food photographer and founder of Bottle Branding, a creative media company. Before photography, his passion for food and wine was cultivated while working with fantastic winemakers and talented chefs throughout Santa Barbara County. Jeremy lives in Lompoc, CA with his beautiful wife, Michelle. Visit www.bottlebrand- Monique Farah got her in the world famous 28-degree vodka tasting freezer, the "Vodbox," at Nic's Martini Lounge in Beverly Hills. Under the guidance of esteemed owner, chef and vodka enthusiast Larry Nicola, Monique has continually impressed distillers and customers alike. Monique is a native resident of Los Angeles. She attended Loyola Marymount University and received a degree in fi lm production. ing the San Francisco Chronicle and Minneapolis Star Tribune, as well as the encyclopedia Opus Vino. He lives in Oakland, CA, where he is a practicing entertainment lawyer. Edward Zelt- ser is professional photographer based in Atlanta, Georgia. Edward earned his stripes as a photo- journalist for various newspapers and magazines in his native former Soviet Union, and af- ter moving to the U.S. over twenty years ago, has been working as a freelance photographer, special- izing in corporate and other events. To view samples of his work, visit 4 / the tasting panel / october 2012 Tim Teichgraeber is a prolifi c freelance wine and spirits writer who is best known for his contributions to newspapers includ- PHOTO: CATHY TWIGG-BLUMEL

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