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Aug 9, 2007 07:24 AM

Suggestions for slightly sweet red wine?

I've recently become interested in wines, however at this point I don't know much about them. I'm interested in a slightly sweet red wine. I've heard Riesling is good . . . I like to nibble on cheese with my wine before dinner or just to sip in the late evening. I don't know the price ranges, but I'm looking for an inexpensive bottle, even thogh I know my selections won't be as good. Something around $20 or less would be fine. I'm really looking forward to the suggesions and leariing from it. Thanks in advvance!!

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  1. >>> I'm interested in a slightly sweet red wine. I've heard Riesling is good. <<<

    OK, I'm confused. Riesling is a WHITE wine. Many Rieslings are bone-dry; Rieslings can range from very dry to very sweet.

    "Slightly sweet reds," on the other hand, are few and far between. Do you mean "slightly sweet" as in actually containing residual sugar, or do you really mean "fruity" (as opposed to the very dry feeling in your mouth from youthful tannins, such as found in a Cabernet Sauvignon)?

    Lambrusco is a slightly sweet red. So, too, is Brachetto d'Aqui. Both are Italian. But these are the only examples of table wine I can think of off the top of my head.

    Sometimes -- though not often -- an Australian Sparkling Shiraz can contain some sweetness. And then there are wines like late-harvest Zinfandels and Ports -- but none of these are table wines.

    To sip late in the evening, you could try any number of true Ruby or Tawny Porto from producers like Graham's, Warre's, Fonseca, etc. Check with your local wine merchant to see what they have in stock. Also, Australian tawnies like Hardy's "Whiskers Blake" or Yalumba "Clocktower" might be to your taste.


    12 Replies
    1. re: zin1953

      Sorry about the confusion with the Riesling . . .as I said, I'm new to wines :-) I guess I'm looking for a "fruity" red wine. I don't care for a very dry wine. It seems that when I try reds I'm usually not happy with the taste/dryness. I've chosen to experirnce more reds for this reason. I like whites as well, but don't have the uncertainy with those as I do with the red variety. Your comments so far have been most helpful.

      1. re: lisamos

        Go with the fruit forward Shiraz from Australia and see how you like it. I think a previous post might have mentioned Yellow Tail Shiraz, try it and post back if you like it. It's found everywhere and very affordable.

        You might want to stay away from the big California reds or South American reds for awhile. I see you are in FL, check the ABC stores for Lakeridge Southern Red- it's a bit sweeter but not a "sweet wine". (Lakeridge is in Clermont, FL.) Publix and ABC both carry Yellow Tail, might also want to try their cab/merlot blend.

        1. re: winechic

          I just finished a bottle of the Lakeridge Southern Red. I do like it, but it is very sweet to me. Its made from the Muskadine (sp) grapes, correct? Yes, I'm in Ocala and have plans to go to the Lakeridge Winery soon. I'll try the Austrialian wines you mentioned and post back. Thanks so much!

          1. re: lisamos

            Ok, so you are looking for fruity, not sweet, red wines. This is a very good thing to know! :)

            ABC is having a sale on Aussie wines, but most are higher end. I checked the flyer online and Kim Crawford's Pinot Noir is on sale for 14.99. Try it out, its a nice one and a great price for a Pinot. I just happen to have the St. Hallet Shiraz/Grenache blend (also on sale) in a red flight at dinner and it's not as fruit forward as you might like, very peppery finish.

            Others on sale to try:
            Greg Norman Shiraz is on sale for 10.99
            Grant Burge Miamba Shiraz is on sale for 12.99

            Looks like there was just a tasting tonight at the ABC Ocala store, bummer. Check for tastings, they don't have their Sept calendar online.

            Happy tasting!

      2. re: zin1953

        Hmmm, I could have sworn I bought a red Riesling at the KaDeWe department store in Berlin. Could I have been mistaken? It certainly tasted like what I'd imagine a red Riesling would taste like.

        1. re: akowit

          Unless they had added food colouring, it's impossible to have a red riesling. The berries are a sort of greenish yellow to golden colour, though as they mature and develop 'noble rot', they do get darker, but not in a way that would produce a red wine. The colour of the wine is from the pigment of the grape, so while it's possible to produce a white wine from a dark skinned grape by minimising skin contact with the juice after pressing, it's impossible to produce a dark wine from a lighter coloured grape because the pigment is absent.

          1. re: akowit

            Yeah, no such thing as red Riesling. If it was good it was likely a Pinot Noir (Blauburgunder) or Lemberger (Blaufrankisch).

            1. re: akowit

              Sunrise Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains made a "Red Riesling" sometime back in the very late 1970s/very early 1980s. We had some White Riesling left over in one bucket -- not really enough to run through the hand-filler to bottle, and some Cabernet Sauvignon left over in another bucket. We put the two buckets and had about five bottles of "Red Riesling."

              Strangely enough, it was actually pretty tasty . . . .

            2. re: zin1953

              I am new to drinking wine also. All the sweet whites wines I have tried I haven't liked. I found out that I do like sweet red wines. I love Lambrusco. Is the Brachetto d Aqui any good?

              1. re: boobie4gs

                If you like Lambrusco my guess is you will enjoy Brachetto.

                1. re: boobie4gs

                  If you have not yet try Chateau ste Michelle harvest select riesling, every bottle has always been a sweet and delicious riesling for me

                2. re: zin1953

                  You know what I find a little funny zin1953? Everything you just said came up verbatim in the first post on Google when I searched "sweet red wine"

                3. While it is true that many Rieslings are vinified dry, the vast majority available in the US are off-dry or sweeter.

                  What you want to buy depends on how "slightly" sweet you want your wine. Such wines as Gallo's 'Burgundy" wines, Yellow Dog Shiraz and other popular mass-market wines have residual sugar that makes them sweeter than most table wines. Georgian wines are often sweet. Mogen David kosher Concord wines, if still made, are often sweet .

                  Certainly most dessert wines are sweet; I don't think you should limit yourself to "true" portos - or include only those from Oz as substitutes. Use caution tho - some ruby port wines are very sweet, some tawnies only negligibly so. Don't forget about sherries or that Greek favorite Mavrodaphne. The Austrians make sweet red dessert wines, often designated Ausbruck.

                  Depending on where you live, mostly off the west coast, local wineries may produce sweet fashioned wines. It is generally not wine connoisseurs who are seeking out nirvana at an Ohio winery; often, their (midwest, east coast wineries) custom consists of non-wine drinkers who prefer sweeter wines.

                  One last word, your cheese snack probably goes as well with white wines as it will with red.

                  1. I'm with zin guy (above post) on some of his observations.

                    Riesling = white wine and not always sweet. Rieslings can be sweet, but you MUST specify you are looking for sweet, as there are some lovely dry Rieslings out there. Truth be told, I find more dry Rieslings than sweet Rieslings these days.

                    Brachetto d'Aqui is a favorite of my sweet wine-drinking friends; it's a sparkling red. Banfi produces Rosa Regale, which you can find nationwide, just about everywhere.

                    Muscadine is a sweet grape that is red and white; if you are in the south you should be able to find several examples of wines produced locally.

                    If you are looking for "lighter" style wines to sip and enjoy with cheese...that are also slightly sweeter....then reds may not be your best bet. There are some great fruity white wines from New Zealand and Australia out there. It seems that my friends and cohorts beginning to enjoy wine find most of these wines very approachable. Trevor Jones White Boots is a white, light, slightly sweet blend of Riesling and Muscat. You can find it at a local wine shop. Alice White Lexia is made from Muscat and is a bargain at under $10 a bottle. (You can find it in grocery stores and liquor stores)

                    Since you are just starting out in your journey of wine, check out for some wine events and tastings in your area. The best way to find out what you really enjoy, is to start tasting. Local wine shops often do free tastings and some offer classes. I would strongly recommend heading to a few shops in your area to feel out which shop "fits" you. Meaning- you feel comfortable enough to ask questions, accept recommendations and the people are approachable. People who enjoy wine and sell it also want you to enjoy wine.

                    May I suggest starting by asking for a bottle in the $15 range, white, lighter styled and slightly sweeter and fruity. Easy on the oak. If they have something open to try, taste it and see if it agrees with you. After trying some wines, you will find your niche- which could be on the opposite end of sweet and fruity. Good luck!

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: winechic

                      There is a wine tasting coming soon to a wine shop in my area and I'm hoping to go. I agree that is one of the best ways for me to familiarize myself. I only wish I had more friends that enjoyed wine to go with me. (Small town Small Minds, if you know what I mean) Don't get me wrong, I love my small town, but a little culture goes along way!!! Anyway, I've already learned so much in just one afternoon of sharing thoughts and researching on the internet and I'm looking forward to experimenting!

                      1. re: lisamos

                        That is the way to do it - taste many different wines and see what you like - also stay away form the mogen david - it will turn you off from wines!

                      2. re: winechic

                        Thank you for that info, winechic. I am a wine "weenie" and just started to drink it. I normally did enjoy the very sweet wines- Muscadines, Mogen David, etc. After all, I was raised on grandpa's home-made burgundy wine and 7-Up spritzers from childhood. After a recent trip to San Francisco and a wonderful trip to V. Sattui Winery, I was able to move up to sweet Rieslings. They have a Gamay Rouge that was to die for, but you can only get it through them. I was so disappointed. It costs so much to order a case and then shipping.

                        I am trying to finesse out of the sweet whites. I know I don't like the bitterness of tannins (at least I think it's the tannins that taste bitter) and the reds have more of that bitter taste to me. Also, the dryer they are, the more bitterness I taste. At least that's what I think I am tasting that I don't like.

                        I have to admit that the less alcohol content the wine has, the better I like it and the less bitter it tastes. In fact, the expert at Sattui was playing with me when he was trying to find a sweet and bitter less wine I enjoyed. When he finally brought one I enjoyed the best and became very excited about it, it turned out to be straight fruit juice! So, that's the type of drinker I am coming from, and I am 55 years old.

                        So, my question is after I disclosed all this embarrassing information about being a wine weenie, can you suggest wines more leaning toward the reds that I can finesse to? I did see the Zinfandel suggestions above and I will try those. Any other suggestions, based on what I said about the bitterness taste?

                        1. re: vgenna

                          I, too, am a complete wine novice (having been an abstainer from all alcohol for the past 33 years). Having tried dry wines (both red and white) I've come to the conclusion that I definitely prefer sweet wines. A friend had suggested Red Cat produced & bottled by Hazlitt Vineyards located in the beautiful Fingerlakes region of New York (Seneca Lake to be precise - I live about an hour away in Central New York - a tasting tour to their vineyards is in my future). All I can say is, "WOW!" A fruity, sweet, red wine which is light and pleasant - delicious! Goes with anything - steaks, burgers, pizza . . . anything! I'm drinking a glass right now while I'm roasting a turkey breast in the oven for dinner . . . it's going to be a good night! (Extremely affordable too - in my area each bottle costs around $10!) Wine snobs be darned!

                          1. re: trishw

                            How long did you try dry wines regularly (say twice a week)?

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Very infrequently - more like three times in the past year at family get togethers (wines provided by family members who know what they're doing). As I was previously a teetotaler for over three decades, it would probably shock everyone if I started drinking twice a week! I've tried mid-priced merlot and pinot noir, but disliked both. The Red Cat, which I researched and purchased myself, was definitely a keeper. Thanks for asking.

                              1. re: trishw

                                Yeah that's not nearly enough time. But we all value different things.;]

                                1. re: trishw

                                  "Learning" to like something like wine might seem counter-intuitive I know.

                                  1. re: trishw

                                    Trish, keep in mind ABOVE ALL ELSE, that taste is an individual thing -- and *no one* can tell you what your taste buds *should* like or dislike.

                                    Personally, I am quite happy you have found Red Cat and enjoy it. If I recall correctly, it is one of Hazlitt's most popular wines. On the other hand, just for the sake of offering a different perspective, I thought it was one of the worst wines I've ever had from New York State.

                                    Don't misunderstand: I sincerely am happy you found a wine that you like. Having spent a lifetime in the wine business, *whenever* anyone finds a wine that they enjoy, it makes me happy and helps my beloved wine trade overall. But when I sought to represent a number of New York State wineries in the State of California, I brought in half a dozen wineries. Hazlitt was one of the few I contacted and rejected, in large part because they were so excited about their Red Cat and upon tasting it, I -- well, let's just say I wasn't fond of it . . .

                                    Different wines for different tastes . . . that's what it's all about!


                                    1. re: zin1953

                                      Ha! Hazlitt's definitely seems to promote its Red Cat, almost to the exclusion of its other wines (just check out their website). As a nondrinker (and who am I kidding, I still am and probably always will be essentially a nondrinker), an opinion from a pro is always welcome! I'll never become a connoisseur, but since there is no shortage of them within my own family and my coworkers, the wine business has no need to worry!
                                      Thanks for the info & kindness, Jason!

                          2. Ca Berti Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro "Classico" semi-dry, $9.


                            I'd say Brachetto is more than slightly sweet.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              <I'd say Brachetto is more than slightly sweet.>

                              I'll say! I love to serve it with my Chocolate Terrine for dessert, but cannot imagine it in other than a dessert setting.

                            2. Anything red from Chile or Australia in the $7-$12 price point will have thick wood and noticeable residual sugar. My hope is that your wine journey won't terminate there though.