Wednesday 6 September 2017

Sweet Sherry for Ladies

Fashions come and fashions go, and as far as wine is concerned sweetness is definitely a fashion. A century ago – and even much more recently - sweet wines were far more popular than now. For example, divers were surprised by the sweetness of the Champagne they rescued from a XIX century shipwreck in the Baltic. But it shouldn’t be a fashion, it is not about being “cool”, it is all about the right wine for the right dish or the right occasion. And it is surely not about gender.

Sweeter styles, at least the more inexpensive ones, are often appreciated by novice wine drinkers because they are easier to drink, and also by older people who are accustomed to the sweeter styles of the past. These days, many people profess not to like sweet wines, as if they were for simpletons or amateurs (or not “cool”), but I have done many tastings which included Cream, Pedro Ximénez and Moscatel and – albeit with a little explanation - people loved them. Some think dark wine is sweet and that certain grape varieties are too, but this is usually not the case.

The fact is that the grape variety and colour don’t matter – the important thing is quality. These wines are often much more difficult to make and require great skill and special conditions, and many are not legendary without good reason. Sweet wines go with all sorts of dishes which are unsuitable for dry wines and are every bit as delicious. It is not as if loads of sugar has been added, as many seem to think; they contain natural grape sugar.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with sweet wines, indeed some of the world’s greatest wines are sweet; Sauternes, Málaga, Tokaj, Port, Constantia and the PX and Moscatel Sherries to name just a very few – and they offer all sorts of flavours and textures which dry wines simply can’t, though naturally the opposite also applies. All decent wines are interesting, dry or not.

So to get to the point, it has long been assumed, mainly by the men who made the wines, that ladies prefer something sweet, as if we were a simpler breed with simpler tastes, but my enquiries show that most of us in fact have much more sophisticated and wide-ranging tastes. Women are less dogmatic and accept a wine for what it is or what it is for. Furthermore, women are scientifically proven to be more sensitive tasters. In fact increasing numbers of women are working as oenologists at bodegas around the world, and the Marco de Jerez is no exception.

Thankfully, these condescending “special wines for ladies” are a thing of the past. Sweet or not, ladies are more than capable of making up their own minds, thank you very much.

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