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Dear Dr. Vinny,
Cheap Sauvignon Blancs taste so sweet to me. Is that because they are low-quality?
—Janet, New Paltz, N.Y.
Most Sauvignon Blancs are known for their crisp acidity and citrus notes, so it’s unusual to hear them described as “sweet.”
That said, many cheap supermarket wines tend to have a sweet or candied quality to them. That style is intentional, as semi-sweet wines are extremely popular—like, the best-selling wines in the U.S. popular. A little bit of sweetness can really add a sensation of richness, complexity and body to an otherwise innocuous, simple wine. And it’s simple to achieve without having to invest in expensive barrels or better-quality grapes from well-tended vineyards. I’m not too much of a wine snob to admit that a semi-sweet wine served well-chilled can be a good fit with all kinds of foods, or be easy to drink when you’re thirsty.
If you’d like to experience more traditional Sauvignon Blancs, the good news is that you don’t have to spend that much money. New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs are crazy popular these days, with plenty of crisp and zingy examples for $10 to $15, sometimes cheaper if they are on sale. They are so popular that producers from other parts of the world have been emulating the style (and the price tag). Wine Spectator contributing editor Matt Kramer recently opined that Sauvignon Blanc is the world's most reliably good wine, and I don’t think you’ll have to search very far to find a great one.
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