Americans Sure Do Love Their Sweet Red Wine Blends
But will consumers take to Scarlett Dark like they have Apothic, Ménage à Trois and Cupcake Red Velvet?
Snobs may turn up their noses, but sweet red wine continues to be the Justin Bieber of wine styles in the United States—megasuccessful but of questionable taste. According to Drinks Business, this niche is worth more than $500 million. Amazingly, only three brands make up half the sales: Gallo's Apothic, Trinchero's Ménage à Trois and Cupcake's Red Velvet. To this list, a new sweet red has been added: Scarlett Dark from French wine company Lamothe Parrot.
Sweet red blends have actually been gaining traction for a few years. One website reported a 22% increase back in 2012. But the public response to this style has been mixed: Critics tend to prefer dry wines (unless they're talking about the world's great dessert wines). They note that sugar can mask flaws in cheap wine. That many sweet wines lack sophistication. That they do not express terroir.
The general public, of course, does not necessarily care about such things. And they vote with their wallets—often in supermarkets, where up to 80% of sweet reds are purchased. Some people (maybe even you on occasion) drink wine the way other folks drink beer or soda—without pretension, void of any inclination to pair with food, and unashamedly in pursuit of candy-bar-like deliciousness. On that note, who is to say that sweet is inherently bad? It could even be a gateway drug to more serious wines. Some sweet wines aren't even that sweet.
So what's inside a bottle of Scarlett Dark? It's a blend of Shiraz, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. The promotional materials manage our expectations by suggesting flavors of "blackberries and hints of vanilla and mocha." You may recognize those descriptors from another insanely popular beverage department: sweet coffee drinks. Is it any wonder why Starbucks now sells wine?