Whether they’re white or red, the cheapest wines tend to be sweeter than the finest wines. This is not simply true of the sweetest styles, like moscato, but even of wines made from grapes associated with dry styles, like chardonnay or cabernet sauvignon.
The reason that bulk versions of these styles tend not be fully dry is that a faint touch of sweetness can mask weak or off tastes produced by low-grade grapes. The more a wine costs, the more this pattern changes, and the more likely the wine is to contain less noticeable sugar, especially in a red.
However, there are some well-made wines that do blur the line between sweet and dry, as with this delightfully fruity white from Italy. Such styles make terrific “crossover” wines for those who normally drink sweeter or cheaper wines, and they’re ideal for wine-curious beginners. But they’re also surprisingly well-suited to partnering with food, offering a simple pleasure that even the most jaded dry wine drinker can enjoy.
This particular example is light, fresh, and faintly sweet. It comes from the hills of Italy’s Umbria region. While some Orvieto is quite dry and may even be barrel-fermented, the most affordable examples — like this one — are unoaked. They tend to feature a honeyed quality that adds to its notes of fresh pear and that flatters all sorts of foods, from seafood to salads, particularly those that have Asian flavors or spicy heat.
On sale for $8.99 through Feb. 2 (regularly $9.99); PLCB Item #5724