The vast majority of premium red wines are quite dry, meaning not at all sweet, and, until recently, only the most affordable reds had any noticeable sugar content. However, as wine grows more popular globally with younger generations, there has been a demand for vintners to deliver well-made red wines for those who prefer a touch of sweetness. In the U.S., we see this trend mostly with California red blends, but there are now more such wines emerging from other countries, as well. As a general rule, reds that are not fully dry are most satisfying when they're from warmer, sunnier regions, like Australia, because grapes need to be ripe to make a richly textured red and still have enough sugar to spare so a small fraction can be left unfermented to sweeten the pot. Though many wine drinkers think sweeter reds don't make good "food wines," they just need to be paired with recipes in which sugar plays a role in the sauce – think barbecue, teriyaki, or anything "glazed." This delicious example combines shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, and grenache to craft a plump, jammy red with dark flavors reminiscent of blackberry cobbler and a healthy dose of bourbonlike aromatics. It contains just over 1 percent residual sugar to bring its sweetness just slightly above the threshold of perception.
19 Crimes Red Blend, southeastern Australia, $9.99 (through April 1, regularly $12.99). PLCB Item #7882