Red wines and drier whites are generally an acquired taste, so wine drinkers almost always cut their teeth on white or rosé wines that feature a little grapy sweetness.
Such wines get no respect, though, particularly when they are also low in alcohol and affordably priced. Retaining some sweetness in wine is achieved naturally, by interrupting fermentation before the last shreds of grape sugars are converted to alcohol. This is a quick and easy process that yields wines that taste closer to fresh fruit juice than any other style.
This helps explain why these wines are so modestly priced and such crowd-pleasers with more diverse appeal — across generations, cultures and classes — than most others can muster. This 1.5 liter “magnum” of California chenin blanc makes a perfect example at a staggeringly low sale price this month.
Chenin blanc is a noble French grape that is rarely bottled as a varietal wine in California because it doesn’t have the cachet of its more famous relations such as chardonnay and sauvignon blanc, which don’t taste as interesting when made in a sweeter style.
But Chenin excels in this vein, bursting with vibrant flavors of apples and tangerines, and is tailor-made for foods that feature some sugar or spice, from weekend brunches to Vietnamese cuisine.
Beringer Chenin Blanc, California. 1.5L. $9.99 (regularly $13.99; sale price through Sunday). PLCB Item #9918.