Wine taste preferences: it’s okay to like sweet wine and hate champagne
Have you ever felt embarrassed to show a liking for sweet wine when in the company of self-proclaimed wine enthusiasts? Well don’t be! Your preference for slightly sweet white wines or blush style rosés is shared with many other people – the idea that dry wines are somehow better or that highly alcoholic red wines that come with a mouth-drying tannic aftertaste are the choice you move on to after the beginners sweet phase is now known to be incorrect thanks to research.
It’s all down to taste sensitivity. Research by Tim Hanni and Virginia Utermohlem found that people differ in the strength of the taste signals coming from the mouth and nose when they drink wine – those with the highest taste sensitivity preferred sweet flavours to offset the bitterness found in many foods and drinks.
If this is you then you’ll find you prefer slightly sweet wines like White Grenache (a blush rosé), German Rieslings, lower alcohol lightly sparkling Moscato and Australian Shiraz. But you won’t like Pinot Noir reds from the Burgundy region of France.
Those with a lower threshold of taste sensitivity seem to prefer strong tasting red wines.
It’s all down to our age and experiences. Children are biologically designed to like sweet flavours – but this tails off in the early teenage years and is replaced with life experiences which then tell us whether to continue liking sweet or to seek out bitter, stronger flavours – or a mixture of both. Everyone is different. So there is no truth in the old adage that as your palate matures it becomes more sophisticated. It may change but that is a slightly different kettle of fish – or barrel of wine.
So why put yourself through the burp-inducing tooth-enamel cleaning lemoniness of many supermarket champagnes when a semi-sweet slightly sparkling Moscato would be preferred? Or an expensive older wine that has been “cellared”, or kept in storage, for a few years – possible over a decade? These wines will have lost their initial fruity flavours and been replaced with more earthy, meaty (sometimes) tastes that you may or may not like.
So drink what you like and not what society says you should. Move away from the stereotypes and drink what you, really, really want. Perhaps the Spice Girls were right all along?
wineuncorked.co.uk top-rated slightly sweet wines
Aldi Blugarten German Riesling 2020
A lovely pale green German Riesling with refreshing flavours of apple and lime with a sweetness of lemon curd. A top wine at a great price of just £4.49.
Geometria Malagouzia 2019
£10.95 The Wine Society
The Greek white grape variety Malagouzia almost became extinct but was rediscovered in the 1970s. Now it is becoming fashionable and rightly so if this example is anything to go by. The aroma reminds me of a mandarin and lemon trifle with a rich sponge at the base. There is a richness across the tongue but with a lime and orange peel zing. Balanced and drinkable with or without food.
Stormhoek Fairtrade Moscato Petillant sweet rosé
At just 5.5% alcohol with a touch of sparkle (or petillant) this sweet pink wine made with the aromatic Moscato grape variety is a simple slurp best enjoyed straight from the fridge. Sweet apple and melon flavours with a bit of bubblegum and aspirin astringency.
Chateau Gravas Sauternes 2016
£12.99 (half bottle) Virgin Wines
This dessert wine made from the Semillon grape comes from the Bordeaux region of France isn’t excessively sweet. It’s sweet-sour flavours of Seville orange marmalade with added lemon and the aromas of a fluffy textured apple are most appealing. Add in the extra floral notes on the aroma and you have a wine that is as enjoyable sipping it on its own or enjoying with cheesecake desserts or even Cheshire cheese and fruitcake.
Botham and Balfour English Rosé 2020
£12 Tesco, £15 Botham Wines
A collaboration between ex-English cricketer Sir Ian Botham OBE and the owners of Kent’s Hush Heath Estate, the Balfour-Lynns, has produced this tasty English rosé with flavours of almond cake and strawberry ice cream. I didn’t find the back label aroma description of “orchard flowers enveloped in spice” but I did enjoy reading it.
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4* very good wine
3* good wine but over priced
2* a disappointing wine
1* little to offer
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© Paula Goddard 2021 www.wineuncorked.co.uk