Anthony Rose: 'A little bit of sugar helps the medicine, whether tannin in red wine or acidity in white, go down'
I first heard of Apothic when the PR for the new California brand from Gallo asked me if I wanted a sample of a wine "fusing Old World intrigue with modern sophistication". It sounded too untrue to be good so I declined. I thought no more of it until, lo, two days later it turned up all sweet and chocolatey at Tesco's press tasting. Yum, I hear you say. Perhaps. The wine trade refers to this kind of wine as an 'entry wine', in other words, designed to appeal to newcomers to wine in the same way as, say, moscato or gewürztraminer.
The idea seems to be that a little bit of sugar helps the medicine, whether tannin in red wine or acidity in white, go down. The great success story of the modern era is the Aussie brand Yellow Tail, whose sugary chardonnay was endowed with the Midas touch.
There's a fair bit of this sort of wine around posing as sophisticated and dry. Tesco's apparently dry Cuvée Prestige de France has almost as much sugar as Apothic, as does Brancott Estate's 'lower alcohol' sauvignon blanc. Lanson White Label Champagne calls itself 'Sec', or dry, but it's semi-sweet. Don't even get me started on the plethora of saccharine California rosés.
According to Tesco's wine buyer, Apothic is extremely popular with customers as it's "a bit like a wine chocolate milk shake for grown-ups". On my way home from the Tesco tasting, I came across an Apothic pop-up at Waterloo Station dispending plastic thimblefuls to stressed commuters. In an instant vox pop, sure enough, seven out of 10 said they loved it. The other three found it too sweet.
I don't buy the argument that the Apothic drinker will graduate to drier and better, but is it a little bit snooty of us so-called arbiters of taste to have a go at such marketing-led confections? The world is full of great sweet wines from sauternes to port and they wear their sweetness with a badge of pride. Apothic and its ilk pose as sophisticatedly dry when they're mawkishly sweet.
For a red in which the fruit not the sugar does the talking, try a satisfying languedoc such as the spicy, red-fruited 2011 Taste the Difference Pic Saint Loup, £9.99, Sainsbury's, a priorat like the powerhouse plums and spiciness of the 2010 Clos de Tafall, £12.99, Wine Rack, or, from Australia, the rich, smoky, blackberry-laden 2011 The Hedonist Shiraz, McLaren Vale, £12.99, Waitrose.
Alternatively, for the sweet of tooth, why not go for a brazenly sweet LBV port such as the aromatic walnuts and prunes richness of the Maynard's LBV Port, £9.99, Aldi. Or go the whole hog with Bailey's Chocolate Luxe, £17.50, 50cl, Waitrose; liquid death by chocolate.
Liam Neeson's Downton dreams
Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage
Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour
Life & Style blogs
Ebola outbreak: Survivor William Pooley is flown to US to give doctor with virus emergency blood transfusion
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
Tezenis removes 'crime scene' pants from Oxford Street store after backlash over 'rape' connotations
A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
iOS 8: 6 reasons you might want to hold off updating
- 1 Thailand beach murders: Thai PM suggests 'attractive' female tourists cannot expect to be safe wearing bikinis
- 2 Scottish independence: What you shouldn't tweet about if you want to avoid jail today
- 3 Scottish independence: Five reasons Salmond is secretly hoping for a 'No' vote
- 4 Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
- 5 Isis plan to 'behead random member of the public' in Sydney thwarted by Australian police
iJobs Food & Drink
£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...
Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...
£20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...
£15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...