This is a category that is most definitely in vogue at this time and I don't really know why. Perhaps it is a reaction against the assumption that all reds must be dry. Perhaps it is a counterpart to the Moscato craze. Anyway, capitalism being what it is, there are certainly a lot of sweet reds in the marketplace from which to choose. Let's sort them out.
The category that has always been here is the fortified/apertif collection. In the main, Port has held center stage in this category for centuries with Vermouth and other specific european brand name apertifs, all of which feature a modicum of brandy in their recipe and are favored as after dinner wines. Most wines in this category are heavier in the mouth and would welcome an accompanying cigar.
Another category that has been around for a long while are the sweet reds that have traditionally been used in liturgical contexts. These flavorful offerings tend to be a bit heavier than most red table wines and sweeter than most wines on this list.
Sweet sparkling red wines also are a category unto themselves and Australia would be the biggest current proponent of these. In general, sparkling Shirazes are full bodied and heavier than their european counterparts like Lambrusco, which is lighter and often less sweet.
The red fruit wines of Boutier Winery of Danielsville, Georgia are a popular item here at the store. They are a moderate sweetness. Manischewitz fruit wines, on the other hand, exemplify a heavier sweeter style. Sweet red fruit wines are always intended for/as dessert.
Italian sweet reds actually are the red counterpart to Moscato discussed above. They are light, frizzante, and low in alcohol and often just a step beyond rose. These have been around a long time but seem to be hitting their stride in sales only now. These are also probably the best option for the summer heat of Georgia.
Sangria would seem to combine the previous two categories. It is light and fruity and in the warm weather, oh-so-refreshing. Our proud offering this summer is the Sangria Classico from Spain priced at an unbelievable $10.99/1.5l. Jump on it!
And then you have California... The most common grape for California sweet reds is Zinfandel and it is commonly blended with any of a number of legitimate vinifera red grapes that compliment the forthright Zinfandel fruit. These wines are typically moderately sweet, full bodied, and have a spicy component. The brand that put this style on the map was Folie a Deux's Menage a Trois and now that style has been knocked off by everyone on the block. Success breeds imitation, right? And modification. Everyone seems to have a twist on the basic sweet red California recipe. Like I said earlier, that's capilalism!
Wine Tasting Alert: We have dry top quality reds from Argentina at this evening's tasting with Camby Akers of Panoram Imports leading the event. Friday evening Henry Leung of Hemispheres Fine Wines offers reds and whites from Spain and Italy here at the store. Please join us for these events.