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Dublin, Ireland
Hi, I'm Dermot Nolan, and I became a Master of Wine (MW) in 1997, and resigned from the Institute of Masters of Wine in 2023 after being an MW for exactly 26 years. I opened a wine shop in Dún Laoghaire, Ireland, called The Wine Library, which closed in 2018, and this is my personal wine blog. I will do my utmost to be fair and responsible in my posts – please read my Who Pays article in re the ethics of wine trips and writing. I have worked in wine education, retail, and consultancy since 1990. I was a Director of the Institute of Masters of Wine (IMW) from 2008 to 2014 and was also a member of the Events Committee, founder of the Trips Committee, and member of the Governance Committee. Having had problems with potentially libellous comments from unidentifiable posters, I now require that if you post a comment, you must identify yourself properly or it won't be published. Please note that I do not review products or services on request so kindly don't ask. I value my independence and I believe my readers (few that they may be) do so also.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sweetness and light

Here's the thing - apparently a lot of people think sweetness in wine is not good, so they look down on consumers who drink sweet wines. These sweet critics are partially responsible for the poor commercial state of classic German wines (based, as they are, on a balanced palate of sweetness and acidity) but they also make ordinary folk feel bad about their choice. Indeed, some years ago I was gently slagged in a well-known NOffLA off-licence for buying Blue Nun - "There's a Master of Wine and he drinks Blue Nun!" - but imagine if the punter in the queue behind me had just picked up a bottle of BN as well? They'd think to themselves, why spend my money here?
This is interesting for two little reasons - one is that most people have no idea how sweet most wines are: [yellow tail] shiraz has about 12 g/L residual sugar! This is as sweet as most Champagnes and close to a lot of usually slagged off German wines.
The second reason is that my MW mate Tim Hanni has just been involved in a study which shows that people who like sweetness are often extremely sensitive tasters. Tim is, to put it politely, mad but in a very good way and he is a real champion of trying to bring ordinary people along on the great wine journey - he never looks down at people for their choices and he spends a lot of time trying to understand why these choices are made.
There are people who are so-called super-tasters - they experience bitter tastes very strongly and often need to ameliorate the bitterness with salt or sugar. So, many of the people who find it easier to drink a blush Zinfandel amy well be more sensitive tasters than those of us who look down on them for not buying classed growth claret - that bitter, astringent experience.
So, lessons learned today - every one is entitled to their choice but don't tell me you don't like sweet wine when you drink [yellow tail] or Hardy's Stamp (8.1 g/L) or Wolf Blass Eaglehawk (10.6 g/L) or any of many other similar wines.

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