Best wine for my taste? Sweet, limited acidity?
February 9, 2014 1:40 AM   Subscribe

I can't seem to stomach wine easily, even the smell is pretty awful, but I want to acquire a taste for it for special occasions. I'm tired of being the only person toasting with a coke! I don't like sour, acidic or alcohol tastes, so I may be out of luck, but if anyone has any recommendations I'd really appreciate it. I should also mention that the above mentioned flavours are all usually much worse when cold, so I'm hoping for a good room-temp wine. Thanks in advance!
posted by Ellabelle797 to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Have you tried Moscato? It tends to be quite sweet, although it is generally served chilled.
posted by efalk at 1:47 AM on February 9, 2014 [4 favorites]

I am also put off by most wines, but I find that dessert wines are really enjoyable. Not much alcohol flavour or acid, and as they're 'dessert', they tend toward the sweet end of the spectrum.

Any dessert wine should meet your needs. A Moscato, or a Late Harvest Riesling, are the easiest to find.

If you're looking for an actual wine/brand/vintage recommendation, Mondavi makes a lovely Moscato d'Oro - lush flavour, with some lychee and jasmine tones. The 2011 will run you about $13 and is super easy to find in markets. The 2009 is a bit fuller, and will run around $25 - I'd suggest going for the 2011, personally.
posted by dotgirl at 1:59 AM on February 9, 2014

We might just have different palates, but I will say I hated red wine until I had a bottle of *good* red wine. It was $50 at a restaurant, so probably $25 at a store. It just seemed to be smoother and it was the gateway wine for me. But you could just google the lowest acidic variety of wines and start there. I think people who don't like wine usually start with or prefer white, as it's sweeter.
posted by AppleTurnover at 2:53 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If it's just for toasting or drinking something celebratory on special occasions perhaps a wine cooler or spritzer would do the trick. Any white wine mixed with lemonade or Sprite should look the part and taste very palatable. Most white wines tend to be acidic and sweet wines aren't particularly easy to get hold off at an average function or that enjoyable on their own to be honest. For reds you'll find Merlot, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais to be soft and fruity and very palatable. It might also be worth experimenting with rose wine which can often be very juicy, full of sweet strawberry notes and lower in alcohol. For toasts something like a sparkling pink Zinfandel would do, just ignore the wine snobs sneering at you when you order!
posted by Caskeum at 3:12 AM on February 9, 2014

When you say 'alcohol' as a flavour is unpleasant to you, does that mean you can't enjoy fortified sweet wines like sherry? Because I think if that's the case some of the heavier dessert wines might also be unpleasant to you - probably requires some experimenting!

That said - I also dislike acid, and have a huge tolerance for sweet (to the point of sickly!) wines that I will drink at room temperature regardless of the Sommellier's horror. If in doubt and faced with a big wine list I'll aim for the grapes Gewürztraminer or Viognier or splash out on a Sauternes, which all tend to the sweet or dessert range, and are probably good places for you to start.
posted by AFII at 3:12 AM on February 9, 2014

My favorite dessert wine: Selak's ice wine. Although it is best served cold, I promise it is not at all sour/acidic or strongly alcohol-tasting.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 3:14 AM on February 9, 2014

Thanks for all the fast answers, guys! I'll be sure to take notes for when I go shopping next. =)
posted by Ellabelle797 at 3:33 AM on February 9, 2014

Lambrusco! Bonus: it tastes awesome with pizza!
posted by ian1977 at 4:37 AM on February 9, 2014

Moscato d'Asti is the one we jokingly call "wine soda" - light, sweet and bubbly. This one is a favorite.
posted by Mchelly at 5:02 AM on February 9, 2014

If you're serious about the acidity and the smell, avoid everything that's cheap, because most frequently, that kind of wine is just sugared up to mask whatever nastiness lingers beyond.

It's really about the level of commitment you're aiming at…but if you're such an infrequent wine drinker, you might consider to splurge out whenever the occasion arises. I'm sure that would instantly solve your problem.
In whites, an upscale Sauternes, or a really expensive Spätlese (late harvest, as per above) of some kind would probably make you happier than any over-affordable jolly workaround.
In red wines, try the fancier kinds of Port for real sweet, or a good Barolo for total utter smoothness in the less sweet department.
Other than that, I'd say, avoid clownbarf taste profiles ("Tones of Tutti frutti; pineapple; exotic fruit" all that...), they'd just add to the regret.

If all that doesn't seem right, I'd totally stick with Coke and try to not worry about it. Tastes differ, and there's that.
posted by Namlit at 5:18 AM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Moscatos are the sort of wine you should be looking at, I don't know any US wineries to offer suggestions, but it is a great gateway wine.
posted by wwax at 5:23 AM on February 9, 2014

Nothing Moscato, which an actual sommelier recommended to me when I asked him basically this same question.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:36 AM on February 9, 2014

Also be sure to drink from fresh bottles. I'm crazy sensitive to vinegar (as you might be also) and a bottle that's been open three days has often gone notably off to me, while others around me are drinking it happily.
posted by Andrhia at 6:27 AM on February 9, 2014

I'm also a super sweet wine drinker and I drink the fuck out of some moscato. My favorite brand is Barefoot, but I'm sure there are plenty of fancier brands out there. (Just avoid Woodbridge, ugh.)
posted by sperose at 6:51 AM on February 9, 2014

Moscato is certainly your ticket: sweet, low in acidity. The ones from northern Italy (Moscato d'asti and its cousins) are really low in alcohol, too - often around 5-6%, half that of most wines. The tricky thing is that there are sweet muscat wines that are considerably _higher_ in alcohol than most wines - the ones from the south of France, for example, often run 13%. Asti Spumante is the sparkling version of Italian muscat, and is equally sweet & low in alcohol. I'm not sure about the Mondavi, but California versions of low-alcohol wines from Europe often seem to goose the alcohol quite a bit, so read the labels before you buy.

Depending on where you live, the easiest-to-find moscato of the type I'm describing might be Bartenura, which you will find in the kosher section of your liquor store. It comes in a blue bottle. It is not nearly as bad as the packaging suggests.

You can certainly _try_ the "buy expensive" route, but my experience with friends who've embarked on this journey is that (1) dry wines are an acquired taste and (2) a lot depends on the expectations (conscious & unconscious) you bring to it. If you are worried about acidity, for example, you might find even the finest German late-harvest riesling too tart.
posted by mr vino at 7:14 AM on February 9, 2014

And, for the low-brow answer, try some Manischewitz. It's super sweet, barely acidic, and tastes like the telos of grape juice distilled with my ancestors' suffering. Passover is coming, paint the town.

I think this stuff is vile, but friends of mine who have come to my seders who hate wine have loved it, so who am I to judge?
posted by juniperesque at 7:22 AM on February 9, 2014

If you live in a place that does "Wine Walks", I've found that is the most casual time and place to learn about your personal taste in wine. You can generally try about 30-40 varieties, just getting a little taste of what may appeal to you after talking to the seller. Ask for a smaller pour than normal, take a taste, and if it's not for you, pour the rest out into the bucket and try the next one. Take notes/photos whatever you need to do when you find "The One". I've found these vendors very informative, if you describe what you are looking for, even if it's not what they've got that day, they can recommend a variety.
posted by Jazz Hands at 8:46 AM on February 9, 2014

I'm going to link the answer I wrote in a recent similar question.

That asker's taste preferences didn't entirely meet up with yours, so there I was betting she'd like crisp, acidic whites like Vinho Verde. That's clearly not what you're going to like, but the advice in that post is the same for you -- go to a wine bar. Tell the bartender you're a wine novice, and what you generally like (you did a great job describing it here!). See what she recommends and give it a chance.

Also, it's perfectly OK not to like wine at all.
posted by Sara C. at 12:01 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Namlit's comment hits the nail on the head as far as I'm concerned; the only thing I'd add is madeira, which is delicious and generally undervalued (i.e., you can get a really good madeira for a hell of a lot less than a really good wine).
posted by languagehat at 12:04 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

If your'e serious about this, go to your local wine store (or semi-upscale grocer that has a large wine selection with dedicated wine employees) and describe your situation to them. In my experience, these people love to talk about wine as much as they love helping you find something you'll love. The world of wine is vast, and having an expert to guide you through it is invaluable.

You might not get it right the first time, but go back and describe what you did and didn't like about your last bottle. It's an iterative process.

The suggestions above are all good. It's hard to talk about "whites" and "reds" as groups, because there's so many internal variations and exceptions. But in general, white wines fare better at lower temperatures, while reds are better at room temperature. Furthermore, whites tend to be higher in acidity than reds. So, you might want to stick to reds to start off.

Something else to consider is that the prominence of a wine's acidity will usually lessen with aging, so seeking out a wine that's a few years old might be a good idea.

Take the "avoid everything that's cheap" advice with a grain of salt. Yes, there are a lot of junk wines near the bottom shelf, but you can get some excellent bottles for less than $20. I think a better piece of advice would be to avoid big-name wine manufacturers (think Barefoot and Yellow Tail), as these will almost always be garbage.
posted by rensar at 3:50 PM on February 9, 2014

This chart illuminates the wine options quite well. You might want to use it to grow your vocabulary as you're experimenting with flavors. It's hard to have a deep conversation about what you like and dislike without knowing some pretty specific wine terms.

(Says a lover of big reds that are fruity, round, and spicy; low in tannins.)
posted by nadise at 4:44 PM on February 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

I tend to treat wine as a condiment, but good champagne is easy to learn to like.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 6:48 PM on February 9, 2014

I hate wine, always have...but when pressed, I find a highly filtered Sauvignon Blanc is tolerable, occasionally good, inasmuch as the taste tends to be subtle. When around wine, ask for whichever one of those that is recommended, and when you finally find one you like find out what it is for future reference.

Having said that: it's okay not to drink wine. People assume you're not a drinker or that you're a recovering alcoholic, so if they're inclined to care either way they really have no way to judge which one it is anyway.
posted by davejay at 7:54 PM on February 9, 2014

Demi-sec (or Moelleux) Vouvray

But Moscato would definitely work too.
posted by jmmpangaea at 11:13 AM on February 10, 2014

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