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   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 59, January 2008   
Who Does Like Sweet and Fortified Wines?Who Does Like Sweet and Fortified Wines?  Contents 
Issue 58, December 2007 Follow DiWineTaste on Follow DiWineTaste on TwitterIssue 60, February 2008

Who Does Like Sweet and Fortified Wines?


 The question could sound like a provocation, one of those which would make not much sense asking. However, it we ask wine lovers what is the style or type they like the most, only few of them give a top ranking to sweet and fortified wines. As these wines are not so popular among the preferences of consumers, it is therefore legitimate to ask if there is still someone who likes sweet and fortified wines. Of course these wines are liked and appreciated by everyone - or, at least, by most of wine lovers - however they are not among the ones playing a primary role in the wine making scene. A trend which is also confirmed by our polls and in which we ask our readers what is the wine they like the most, both in general sense as well as referred to every month of the year. In our general poll, sweet wines are in the middle of the ranking, with 4.29% of preferences, whereas fortified wines occupy the last place with a little less than 1% of preferences.


 

 In order to understand this result better, the first place of our poll is occupied by red wines, with 73%, followed by whites, with 13.70%. Whether red wines were the ones preferred by most of consumers, it has never been a mystery, not at least in recent years. What strikes the most is the result achieved by fortified wines: not only for being in the last place of the ranking, indeed for the fact they got less than 1% of preferences. The figure is even more disconcerting if we think fortified wines played a very important commercial role in past times, very looked for by European noble courts. We can certainly admit times have changed and, with them, tastes as well: this could explain the preferences of consumers in our days. It should also be remembered in relatively recent times, most of fortified wine production was not so exciting in terms of quality, and this certainly contributed to “demolish” the fame of these noble wines. It should also be said in the last years, the production of fortified wines achieved results of absolute excellence, therefore fading the not so honorable past.

 This is also true for sweet wines, whose fame did not follow the same fate of fortified wines, and they certainly reached very high levels of quality, something which distinguished them since the dawning of enology. It should also be said both sweet and fortified wines have a marginal consumption in the table: whenever one thinks about uncorking a bottle of wine to be matched to a meal, most of the cases it is a white or a red wine. We think about the consumption of sweet and fortified wines, and not all the times, in case of pairing with desserts and, sometimes, in the so called “meditation” moments. Nevertheless, if we ask anyone to express an opinion about sweet and fortified wines, most of the consumers will answer with superlative adjectives of appreciation. Everyone likes sweet and fortified wines, they like them a lot, however it is undeniable their consumption is definitely marginal in regard to other wine styles.

 For the sake of truth, we should remember the price of quality sweet and fortified wines is generally high, therefore the number of consumers who can afford buying them is pretty low. Is therefore price the main problem for the consumption and the spreading of sweet and fortified wines? This certainly contributes significantly, but it certainly is not the only factor to be considered. Always remembering there is a substantial and undeniable difference between speculation and the right price, we should also remember if the production of quality wines generally has high costs, in quality sweet and fortified wines costs are even higher. Sweet wines are generally made from dried grapes, that is grapes having lost part of the water contained in the berries. The quantity of juice which can be the obtained from them is therefore far lesser than the one obtained in the typical production of table wines, hence strongly affecting both costs and final prices.

 For this reason, the production of sweet and fortified wines is generally limited; they are being produced in a limited quantity of bottles and which - for the usual marketing and entrepreneurial rule - they must ensure a profit in order to recover production costs. In our opinion, one of the problem limiting the spreading of sweet and fortified wines - which is added to the other ones - is represented by the low visibility and promotion reserved to these wines. For example, try to take a look to the wine list of any restaurant: the space reserved to sweet wines is very modest, most of the time listing just three or four choices. Things are not certainly better for fortified wines, most of the times totally absent from wine lists. Of course, we do not mean to blame restaurants for this, after all - this is can be easily understood - in case a product does not sell, or there is a low demand, it is not economically convenient to offer a wide choice. If we also consider these wines are usually sold at a high price, the chances to sell them drastically diminish.

 A solution could be represented by selling sweet and fortified wines by the glass: with a definitely lesser price of a whole bottle, many will consider matching a good glass of wine with their desserts. If this could seem like a good solution, it should also be remembered wine sold by the glass is currently uncommon for table wines, therefore it is even more uncommon - and less probable - for sweet and fortified wines. Last but not the least, it is also a problem connected to culture and customs: everyone, or at least the majority, appreciate and like sweet and fortified wines, however few of them remember about them. Moreover, if we consider the fact the ones who remember about these wines do not choose them because of their high price, the situation becomes pretty difficult to remedy. If we then choose a sweet or a fortified wine with a very low price, that is a price anyone can afford, most of the times its quality is very disappointing as well as unsatisfying. Who does like sweet and fortified wines? Everyone, of course. The problem is that not everyone can afford very good ones!

 




   Share this article     Summary of Editorial column Wine Tasting 
  Editorial Issue 59, January 2008   
Who Does Like Sweet and Fortified Wines?Who Does Like Sweet and Fortified Wines?  Contents 
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