NCP in the news

Date Posted: 08/12/21

NCP In The News: Can Sweet Wine’s U.S. Image Be Rehabilitated?

(originally posted on


“It’s not sweet, right?”


Sommeliers are asked the question at least once a day, says Zaitouna Kusto, sommelier at Esters Wine Shop & Bar in Santa Monica, California. “These well-meaning people aren’t wrong about their tastes, of course, but they are potentially misguided by a number of sociological factors they may not even realize.”


American sweet wines have long had a poor reputation. In stark contrast to the grand sweet wine traditions of Europe, like Sauternes, Tokaji and Italian passito, U.S. bottlings are often lumped together with poorly made, sugar-laden sweet offerings sipped by those thought not to know “real wine.”


“Over the years, the perception [of sweet wine] in the United States was not the best…a lot of people associated it with unsophisticated wine,” says Pauline Lhote, winemaker at Chandon in Napa Valley. “But there are so many examples, whether in Europe or the U.S., showing that’s not the case at all.”


A new crop of winemakers, particularly in previously overlooked areas like the Midwest, are earning appreciation and reversing negative stereotypes with high-quality, easy-drinking sweet wines that deserve a spot on your table.


How Sweet Wine Is Changing


The numbers tell a big part of this comeback story. Sweet wine is now a $1 billion industry in the U.S., according to Nielsen. It makes up about 13% of total wine sales and grew 8% in 2019.


The pandemic spurred an increase of more than 22% in overall wine sales, and sweet wine sales rose a whopping 40.1%, according to data from NielsenIQ and IRI’s National Consumer Panel.


Sweet wines can often be an entry point for new wine drinkers. One in three new wine consumers start with these bottlings, according to the National Consumer Panel. But that doesn’t mean more experienced wine lovers should shun sweet.


Read the full article…


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