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.

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Supervisor

    £24800 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As one of London's leading Muse...

    Recruitment Genius: Centre Manager

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Guru Careers: Accountant

    £28 - 45k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Accountant is needed to take control of the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel Assistant Manager

    £18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This hotel in Chadderton is a p...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk