While I don't walk around in a "Life's too short to drink bad wine" T-shirt, it is something I largely agree with. The inspiration for my topic this month came from a particularly uninspiring bottle of Red Moscato, which prompted me to comment for two reasons－the style and the quality.
First, the style: As its name suggests, the wine was red and, like most wines made from red or white grapes in the Moscato family, it was sweet—medium-sweet in this example. There is certainly nothing wrong with sweet wines, but it struck me that these wines represent quite a substantial development in the international wine market. This can be directly attributed to the growing importance of the Asian markets and their preference for sweeter styles. As more producers experiment with sweet reds and the quality and sophistication of their outputs increases, it will be interesting to see how more traditional wine markets respond. However, both red and white dry wines will remain top sellers globally, due to their compatibility with a larger range of food.
This brings me to the second point－quality. Unfortunately, the bottle I tasted was very representative of most sweeter red wines on the Taiwan market－correctly made but almost entirely devoid of any discernible character. The main reason for this is wine makers responding to market demand for something red and sweet without having first honed a successful style. It was sweet, red, tasted like wine and, well, that was it. It smelled like Moscato grapes with their floral, fresh fragrance, but the nose flattered to deceive. And on the palate—nothing.
This is not a criticism of sweet red wines, but of any wine that lacks any kind of individual style. I'd rather have tried something completely out of balance, over-oaked or too acidic because at least then I could say something! In Taiwan, the main perpetrators of this spectacular blandness seem to be the Californian wine giants, where it is much more production-line than artisan. I did notice that the grapes were sourced in Australia, so expect to see more wines of this style from there as well as South America.
I'll re-visit them sometime again soon, but for now I'd say they fit the bill for some rounds of 乾杯 (gan bei) but aren't for me, thanks.