Wine Myths: all Rosé and Riesling wines are sweet
I cannot tell you how many times a week I get asked that question. Everything from Chardonnay to rosé: ‘Which of your rosés is the least sweet?’ While I’m generally very patient about people’s wine ignorance, this question has come to drive me absolutely crazy over the years. There seems to be this huge concern that if you like sweet wine you’re somehow less sophisticated. Even some of my coworkers look at me like I’m crazy when I sit down for a drink at the end of the night and pour myself a glass of riesling. So, maybe we need to clarify some things.
Liking sweet wines doesn’t mean
your palate is not good.
First of all, there is absolutely nothing wrong with liking a sweet wine. You like cake, don’t you? And I’ll bet you’ve never turned your nose up at sorbet or a fresh, ripe peach. A ginger ale from time to time perhaps or even a sweetened fruit juice has probably found its way into your glass. Why then would it be out of the question to enjoy a sweet wine? I mean, get over yourself already! If it’s delicious, it’s delicious! Now, just like any other characteristic a wine can possess, too much sweetness can be a terrible thing. It can be too cloing, too syrupy, but when balanced with some rocking acidity or wrapped up in delectable notes of orchard fruits it can be simply glorious!
All riesling is sweet. Or not?
The biggest victim of this prejudice is, and likely always will be, riesling. I will never understand why wine nerds seem to be the only people out there that appreciate this undeniably delicious varietal. And spoiler: it’s not always sweet! Riesling is made with varying levels of sweetness from the bracingly dry examples you’ll see coming out of Alsace to ethereally honeyed dessert wines.
Is there bad riesling out there? Of course there is. I’m sure a lot of the misconceptions people have about them are because of the flood of Blue Nun riesling that hit the States back in the 80s and 90s. It was truly awful:c completely unbalanced, way too sweet, not nearly acidic enough and just flat out gross.
But there’s so much good riesling out there. Hofgut Falkenstein makes some of my favorite rieslings of all time. Yes, they are a bit sweet, but they’re also electrically acidic and just a touch salty. Rieslings pair so well with sweets but the thing a lot of people forget is that they are the perfect match for spicy foods. I absolutely love them with Indian cuisine. And that cobb salad that you just smothered in blue cheese. Yeah, riesling is its best friend. Funky, bold, and spicy. Those are your keywords here.
Need more of a pairing advice? This is where Wine Picker comes handy: this food and wine pairing app will help you find the right wine for your Thai take away.
Is rosé sweet or dry?
Sitting right beside riesling on the sad bus of misunderstood wine is, of course, rosé. White zinfandel is dead, y’all. I know that it hurts you, that it told you all pink wine was a disgusting combo of oak and sugar. But it’s gone now. It got banished to the bottom shelf at cheap grocery stores. It’s not going to hurt you anymore. Rosé is almost never sweet. It’s friendly and light, juicy sometimes, often very clean and a little bubble gummy.
But my favorite kind of rosé? The really dark, concentrated and grippy rosés that pair so well with food. And do you know what people almost always ask me when I pull out that bottle of dark rosé: “Is it sweet?” No! For the millionth time! It. Is. Not. Sweet. It’s concentrated, it’s more tannic, it has more character and depth. It’s going to be delicious with your turkey at Thanksgiving, or your pork roast on Saturday night. It’s perfect with bitter greens and roasted vegetables.
What if I like sweet rosé?
Are there sweet rosés? Honestly, the only ones that come to mind are sparkling and they are few and far between. If you’re ever lucky enough to stumble upon some Bugey-Cerdon grab it and head directly to your favorite patisserie for some pâte à choux or beignets. Yes, it’s sweet. It’s sweet like roses and wild strawberries and fresh jam. It’s perfect with warm croissants stuffed with cheese and really pretty much any butter laden pastry.
There’s nothing wrong with liking sweet wine. I promise. It’s not going to make you less cool and it doesn’t mean that your tastes are childish. In fact, your local wine shop is probably going to respect you more for asking about their favorite riesling. And lay off those rosés. Stop punishing them for the sins of their predecessor. Be bold. Grab a bottle of riesling with your Chinese food take out and bring some dark, concentrated rosé to Thanksgiving. They’ll be great and people will thank you.