Sweet wine lovers step in from the cold, claim their place at the table
Mike and Diane Augur, left, with friends at a recent Naked Winery barrel tasting.
Hang around tasting rooms long enough, and you're going to hear it. Flack, aimed gently (and occasionally somewhat snobbishly) at the people in the crowd who tilt toward sweeter pours.
Diane Augur, Becka Cooper and Arife Ozkan are tired of being treated like the Rodney Dangerfields of the wine world.
“No respect? Yes, all the time,” says Augur, who lives in Gresham, Ore., with her husband Mike.
“I just like what I like. I just don't like the taste of red wines, not unless they're sweet.”
She wasn't much of a wine drinker until about a year ago, when she and Mike started visiting the Naked Winery tasting room in Hood River. Since then, she has become a big fan of the Cougar and Sure Thing labels.
By themselves, or paired perfectly with certain foods, white wines definitely have a place at the table – even in the glass of confirmed red wine drinkers.
Ozkan, who manages the Trout Lake Country Inn in southern Washington, says she has “quite the customer base” for sweeter selections from Naked Winery. She, personally, is a huge fan of the Tease Riesling and Hook Up Muscat.
“We have several ladies who come in and order the Muscat exclusively,” she says. “And the Riesling from Naked, I think it's the best of everything I've tried.”
For the doubters in the crowd, she asks for a little perspective. “Remember, there are people who love to have bitter sweet chocolate, and people who can't tolerate it and like super sweet chocolate,” she says. “Not everybody likes the same thing.”
Kathy Watson, former owner and chef of Nora's Table restaurant in Hood River, says sweet wines pair up perfectly with spicier fare.
“Ice-cold, low-alcohol sweet wines are just the best thing for spicy ... and by that I mean HOT … foods,” she says. “The sweet essence of the wine coats your tongue with a little protection against the capsicum in the pepper, the low alcohol lets you consume enough to keep that hot stuff coming, and the ice-cold quality is refreshing after a heat blast.”
Becka Cooper, left rear, and friends at a recent pickup event in Bend.
Speaking directly to all you beer quaffers, she says a sweet wine will be “a little less filling, leaving more room for those volcanic Thai noodles or Korean barbeque.”
She says they also work well with dessert. “Think of them as 'port light',” she says. “They go really nice with a fresh fruit custard pie.”
Ozkan says her Trout Lake Country Inn customers simply sip what they like. Muscat, she says, goes just great with a burger.
Cooper, a hairdresser who lives in White Salmon, has takin to drinking wine, after years with beer and martinis exclusively, for about three years now. She loves visiting the Hood River tasting room with girlfriends to try new wines and learn about them from what she says is “a very knowledgeable staff.”
“I like a variety of sweet wines,” she says. “The Sure Thing is very sweet, and it's my favorite.”
Lest all you red wine lovers out there find yourselves shaking your heads, fear not. Although she calls herself “more of a sweet wine girl,” Cooper admits all this tasting has broadened her horizons a bit.
“Red wines are growing on me,” she says.