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Too ‘dry’? Try a new category of reds

I meet some people who just stay with white wines and most of them attribute this to a dislike of tannins which they perceive to be astringent or maybe too “dry”.

There is a whole new category of reds that have been produced to resolve this very problem and to better understand let me discuss this word “dry”.

When a grape is fully ripe it may contain about 25 per cent sugar and vineyard owners and winemakers refer to this as 25 degrees brix. Sounds impressive but means the same thing.

If during fermentation the yeasts are allowed to convert all this sugar to carbon dioxide and alcohol, the latter will be about half of the sugar content. In other words, 25 per cent sugar equals 12.5 per cent alcohol.

If the wine ends up with less than half of one per cent residual sugar left in it, our taste buds can detect no sweetness and we say that it is dry. In metric this means half a gram of sugar or less per litre, gives us a dry wine.

Brut Champagne can range from zero to 12 grams per litre or 1.2 per cent maximum; extra dry Champagne 12 to 17 grams and a typical German Riesling about 15 grams per litre.

In the case of Champagne, the acidity and bubbles mask the sweetness levels. On another note, a gin and tonic has about 14 grams per litre, and orange juice 100 (ten per cent).

A couple of years ago, while visiting a doctor, he mentioned that he had enjoyed a delicious red wine in Canada called Apothic Red.

We investigated and now have the 2012 Apothic which is a blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon and true to the new style it is very fruit-driven with a soft mouth-feel and major “yummy factors” with smooth blueberry, hints of vanilla and mocha.

Even if you are a seasoned red wine drinker it is difficult not to admit to a friendly deliciousness here and yes it is off-dry. $17.40.

This week we are just introducing a new red blend called Primal Roots. Merlot provides aromas of raspberry, red currants and mocha along with fine-grained tannins that create a soft, luxurious texture. Syrah adds a deep purple colour, silky texture, violets, black currants, dried cherry and dark chocolate.

Zinfandel is loaded with black cherry, wild blackberries and warm spice. The residual sugar (this term means natural sugar left over after fermentation) at about one per cent is just around the threshold of awareness but not something that is obvious. This Californian red from the 2011 vintage sells for $12.80.

In early December we launched a new Cabernet Sauvignon from California that also followed the trend of having a catchy name.

It was the 2012 Carnivor and, to be honest, the sales caught us quite unaware of its potential and we were out of stock before Christmas. More has just been unloaded and it sells for $16.90.

Again this is out to capture some of the demand for friendly reds but it should be taken seriously by those of us that enjoy red wine on a regular basis.

For instance in the latest Wine Enthusiast magazine it has been designated a “best buy” and giving it 90/100 it says “Dark in colour, deep in aroma, quietly intense in flavour and so mouth-coating in texture this Cabernet Sauvignon demands to be noticed.

All of the bold elements are wrapped in a tightly woven and softly finished texture. The flavours are of dark chocolate and ripe blackberries and it is not overly tannic or too full-bodied.

There will be more on this subject as we eagerly await more of a new-blend-trend red that came in about six weeks ago and immediately sold out.

This column is a paid for advertorial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Michael Robinson is Director of Wine at Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. He can be contacted at mrobinson@bll.bm or 295-0176. Burrows Lightbourn have stores in Hamilton (Front Street East. 295-1554), Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355) and St George’s (York Street, 297-0409). A selection of their wines, beers and spirits are available online at www.wineonline.bm