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September 18, 2008


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This one doesn't bother me. A lot of consumers think they hate "sweet" wines so steering them in their direction is fine.

Same goes for people not liking "dry" wines. If the wine is too astringent they feel it may scratch the rims on their trailer...

Yeah- this whole thing feels a little redneck to me, but if it helps someone buy and enjoy wine, I'm ok.

Sometimes Alsace throws me for a loop-

(This bugs me less than seeing "Pinot Noir" printed on a Burgundy bottle)

Ha! I want to see this label on ALL wines.

Needed - if you've ever opened a bottle of wine expecting dry and getting off-dry (or vice-versa), you would not have that problem again.

I can tell you haven't been at a restaurant, had a bottle of Alsace or Chenin opened and your were expecting dry, but it was off-dry; too sweet for the food you were having it with. This is killing Alsace sales...particularly of riesling. But take the 2001 German vintage; Kabinetts have the sweetness levels of Spatleses. So, unless there's some clue on the bottle, what's a consumer to do?

(Only Zind Humbrecht has a 1-5 sweetness scale on their labels.)

P.S. It would also be fun to see the sugar levels of the high alc. red wines.

I think "not knowing what to expect" is fun for us geeks but for people who need help selecting wine, it's good to know what you're getting before the purchase is made. Then again, couldn't the level of sweetness be tackled with a basic description on the back? I don't know that a formal schema was needed, but I bet it'll be appreciated.


In that instance, IF all (or at least a large %) wineries were using the label, then we'd have some value here. I've asked a number of winemakers both here in NY and elsewhere what they think and they don't think they are going to adopt this for any number of reasons.

To your specific point though, would the sweetness label be on the wine list itself? Assuming not, how would you know if a particular bottle will have it? I guess you could ask the sommelier, but they should be able to tell you about the wine and how it'll pair with your food anyway.

Any thoughts on people's ability to discern between medium dry and medium sweet?

I think in general, I agree with your point (and Erika's) but that's only a small sliver of my argument here.

This IS only meant for riesling, remember.

I agree though, it would be fun to see this on some of high alcohol reds.

Well, it's a Riesling organization doing it because riesling wines are the most problematic; particularly in Alsace. When sales have declined because a consumer doesn't know what he's getting - something should be done.

Btw: Do you like seeing the variety Dry Riesling or Dry Muscat on a wine label?

The IRF even said in their press release that riesling is second only to pinot noir in terms of sales growth in the U.S. So sales are not declining...

The only time that "Dry" is useful to me really is up in the Finger Lakes where many producers make a "Dry Riesling" and then one that they just label "Riesling". But that's only useful in the context of a single winery.

How are sales of Alsace riesling over the last five years? And, do you see them more often on wine lists or less often, now?

(Btw: I feel we've been this to death now.)

While we can argue about various elements as to whether this is a system that can or should be implemented in the general sense, I think the existence of four categories is problematic in terms of logistics. Simply put, we can all try and relate to dry and sweet, but as someone has pointed out what does medium dry and medium sweet mean to a given consumer? The organization justifies these categories with a measurement, but at the end of the day only a subjective analysis works in terms of how to employ these labels in any real way.

My medium dry is nowhere near someone else's, measurements be damned. Yet me and this other taster might be able to agree on dry and sweet in a categorical sense, and probably each place a group of bottles in one category or the other with only a few outliers. If we had to deal with four categories, we would be in a mess and agree on very little.

This is a great system and/or argument for wine nerds who might actually talk about a wine's residual sugar, acidity, etc. in numeric terms, but in a consumer-driven industry that has a great deal of subjective loyalties, analysis, and opinions, I really don't see how this system could be implemented.

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