With the U.S. the largest single wine market, there are outsized trends for which we must bear responsibility.
First up: Moscato, a gentle, usually sweet, often low alcohol white wine that has rather surprisingly been adopted by the hiphop community. Drake likes it and so do lots of other people, some of whom make records and hold microphones very close to their mouths.
But should this really surprise us? Wines with distinctive sweetness have historically been consumed in greater number than dry wines unless, of course, you are a wine snob — er, expert.
Those who embrace wine with fervent passion are often dismissive of people who want their wines to have some sweetness. The people who consider themselves wine-knowledgeable can be downright rude about wines like Moscato. Too sweet, they sniff. Too simple, they snort. Apparently, at least in my telling of it, they make lots of noises with their noses.
The people who like sweetness in their wines are understandably put off by all this sniffing and snorting. Neither group has the faintest idea why the other group can’t see reason. But there’s the problem: each is having a different experience with these wines. Those whose palates prefer sweet wines are often reacting against the bitterness, astringency and tartness of dry wines. Their bodies, in effect, are telling them not to like these wines.
The people who drink these “bone-dry,” “earthy,” “powerhouse” wines — and all the other odd descriptions we wine people generate — are just as perplexed because our bodies are telling us these wines taste good. Most of us wine people aren’t very sensitive to tartness, so we often seek out things that are tart: “dry” wines are just our thing.
People who lack sensitivity to bitterness like the aforementioned big, astringent wines; they figure those who don’t haven’t yet learned how great these wines are. The sweet wine drinkers have, they will say, “uneducated palates.”
What a crock.
It’s personal, as taste should be. We are not supposed to agree on what tastes good and what doesn’t. But I’ll tell you this much, more people like the sweet, mild character of Moscato than the wine snobs will admit. You go, Drake.
Doug Frost is a Kansas City-based wine and spirits writer and consultant who for decades has happily educated the public about all things drink. He is one of only three people in the world to have earned the coveted titles of master sommelier and master of wine. He contributes a monthly wine column for The Star’s Food section.