About a dozen of the 26 sweet reds we tasted.
Count ‘em – 26 sweet reds, tasted and reviewed. Who else would do more? Though, to be honest, there are probably dozens more out there that I haven’t gotten to, and I’m not not sure that I ever will. I’m only human.
Vintages aren’t listed, since many of the wines are non-vintage. In addition, most of the wines that that are dated are made to drink immediately and are made with a recipe that tries to make the wine taste the same every year. Hence, its vintage will make almost no difference.
• Apothic Red ($12, sample): Moderately sweet, but with red wine characteristics like tannins. Not especially fruity (red cherry maybe?).
• Jam Jar ($10, purchased): Probably the first of the modern sweet reds, and it proudly calls itself a sweet wine, almost like cherry cider.
• Brix Sweet Shiraz ($9, purchased): Grape juicy aroma and sticky mouth feel, and nothing much more than sweet.
• Beringer Red Moscato ($5, purchased): The final frontier for sweetness — twice as much sugary-ness as a Beringer white zinfandel, with a very distinctive cherry Kool-Aid flavor.
• St. James Velvet Red ($7, purchased): This Missouri wine is a traditional regional sweet red, made with concord. Not as sweet as the red moscato, but sweet enough.
• Quady Red Electra ($14, purchased): Technically, this is a dessert wine, but the sweet red wine trend has given the wine a boost with people who wouldn’t normally buy dessert wine. Very sweet.
• Sutter Home Sweet Red ($5, purchased): Cherries with a big burst of flavor, as well as some acid balance. Clean, no flaws.
• Smoking Loon Sweet Red ($8, sample): Red wine tannins like a grocery store merlot, and more grape juice-like in flavor.
• Bava Rosetta ($16, sample): Very sweet with light bubbles and an almost white tea flavor. Not that far removed from a small batch soft drink, and well done.
• Turning Leaf Refresh ($6, sample): Thin, and not much of a finish. An orange-ish aroma and very sweet.
• Barefoot Sweet Red ($6, purchased): Lots of cherry fruit and made in the Barefoot style – soft and approachable.
• Cherry on Top ($8, sample): Not impressive – unbalanced and grapes seem of very poor quality.
• Red Breast Sweet Red ($14, sample): Lots of red cherry fruit and lots of sugar. Grape juice doesn’t seem this sweet.
• Montefiore Sweet Red: ($12, sample): Lots of dark fruit, mostly balanced, and fizzy. Very well done.
• Cornicelli Casa Rossa ($12, sample): Very New World in style, with lots of cherry fruit and very sweet. An odd, almost mint tea aroma.
• Vertikal Dornfelder Sweet Red ($8, sample): Funky aromas and not much going on. Not very impressive, considering the dornfelder grape is supposed to make quality sweet wine.
• Lindeman’s Sweet Red Bin 46 ($7, sample): Smells like Australian shiraz and has telltale peppery flavor, but none of this carries over to the wine. Was surprised it wasn’t more drinkable.
• Rose’s Sweet Red ($9, sample): Spanish tempranillo that isn’t especially sweet – more sweet fruit than anything.
• Robertson Natural Sweet Red ($6, sample): South African wine that tastes like it was made with pinotage – which is an acquired taste, even with sweet wine.
• Foxbrook Sweet Red ($5, sample): California red blend that tasted old and worn out, and wasn’t all that sweet.
• Riunite Lambrusco ($5, sample): The original sweet red has a little effervescence; otherwise, seems a little thin with less fruit its competition.
• Roscato Rosso Dolce ($9, sample): Italian sweet wine with red fruit and bubbles that tastes a little like cherry 7-Up.
• Blue Fish Sweet Reel Red ($8, sample): German red that tastes like unripe red grapes mixed with sugar.
• Red Curtain Sweet Syrah ($7, sample): French wine that smells like syrah and tastes mostly sweet, with very little to distinguish it from any of the other sweet reds.
• Menage a Trois Red ($10, purchased): Almost not sweet enough. Tastes more like a soft California wine that a sweet red. Fake oak gives it an almost chocolate feel on the back.
• Gnarly Head Authentic Red, ($10, sample): Lots of stewed red fruit and a sweet finish – one of the sweet reds calling itself a red blend.