In general, new wine drinkers prefer sweet wines. Why? The answer might lie with the fact that the majority who are venturing into the world of wines were drinking either soft drink-based liquor - like rum and Coke/Pepsi which has some level of sweetness to it or just moving from other fruit-based drinks, be it fruit punch or rum punch. This might explain selecting sweet wine in general, but what has caused this bump in sweet red wines in our market?
I believe it might be very similar to what happened in the USA in the early 1990s when a popular TV news programme did a story indicating that the consumption of red wine might be the reason why French people had less incidents of coronary heart disease, despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats. Red wine consumption in the USA shot up 44 per cent. This bit of theory is still permeating the newer markets, as I still get lots of questions about the health benefits of red wine. Many new wine drinkers want to drink red wine because they heard that it is good for them, but the first time they try a typical medium- or full-bodied wine filled with tannins: "Lawd, it bitter" is the reaction.
Sweet reds to the rescue
Historically, a number of wine-producing regions traditionally make sweet (or slightly sweet) red wines, but except for Port - which can be pricey - these wines are not very visible in our markets. These include Madeira from Portugal, Vin Santo, Brachetto and Lambrusco from Italy, some Dornfelder wines from Germany, and some Red Icewines from Canada.
A number of wine producers have made investments in order to cash in on the new wave of wine drinkers in the global market, and the new Jamaican wine drinkers are benefiting from this. It seems that once a consumer gets more than a passing interest in the world of wine, then, in general, there is a graduation to the drier, more complex wines. This process experienced globally has caused some to refer to the simple sweet red and sweet white wines as the "training wheels" of the wine world.
Do you mean sweet or fruity?
The grapes that make wine have a natural fruit aroma that some misinterpret as sweet. Trying to explain varying levels of sweetness can be tricky as everyone's taste profile is different. In general, wines are categorised as being sweet, off-dry (semi-sweet) or dry. Technically, it is the amount of residual sugar in a wine that will determine a wine's level of sweetness. This sweetness is recognised/tasted on the tongue. Some in the Canadian wine industry have done a great job of assigning numbers - a sweetness code of sorts. 0=very dry all the way to 10=very sweet.
If you are new to wine, here are some of the more popular sweet red wines in our market to try: Beringer Red Moscato, California; Sutter Home Red Moscato, California; Lamothe Parrot, France; Trivento Sweet Malbec, Argentina; Cavit Roscato, Italy. Don't forget the wide range of Ports on offer. Incidentally, this style of wine actually goes very well with most spicy Jamaican dishes.
Christopher Reckord - Businessman, Entrepreneur & Wine Enthusiast. Send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow us on twitter: @DeVineWines @Reckord