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Sweet or Dry: PA Wineries Offer Varied Styles

PA Wine blog 5_imag

Most people have preferences in the wine they drink, even if they are open to experimentation.

As a result, many wineries in PA Wine Land understand that when a group of wine buffs arrives at their tasting room for a weekend of wine exploration, some will prefer red, some will prefer white, and others will want only dry wines with minimal sweetness. But still some will prefer to drink wines that are a little sweet (“off dry”) or definitely sweet.

For years, the trend in American wineries and restaurants has been to offer only table wines that are quite “dry.” Technically, that means they only have about three grams of sugar per liter or less.

But increasingly the wine world is accepting sweeter wines, and not just for dessert wines. One reason is that many German Riesling table wines have as much as nine grams of sugar per liter – but with higher levels of acidity to balance them out. Another is that the fruit-forward style of red wine, favored by many critics over time, has conditioned our palates to accept red wines that are a little sweeter – say five or six grams.

What does this all mean in practice?

Drive out this weekend to, say, Christian W. Klay Winery at Chalkhill in the Laurel Highlands. Their tasting menu has such intriguing blend names as “Fort Necessity” and “Nemacolin Castle”, and is broken up into several categories – “Dry White,” “Semi-Dry Wines” and “Semi-Sweet Wines” – in addition to sparkling and dessert wines. The same offerings are made in reds to give customers a variety of choices.

Or visit Allegro Vineyards and Winery at Brogue in York County. There the Crouch Brothers – both musicians, hence the name “Allegro” – have planted seven varieties of grapes on six acres of vineyards. From them, Allegro makes traditional dry red and white varietal wines, such as Chardonnay and Merlot, and blends for those with dry palate. But the winery also offers what it calls “casual wines,” such as a “Brogue Blush,” that Allegro says is “in the style of a white Zinfandel,” and a “Red Lion Red,” which is “in the style of a Lambrusco” from hybrid grapes.

Of course, many PA wineries specialize only in dry wines for those who prefer that standard, but most still allow the choice of dry or sweet to be made at the tasting-room door.

To check in advance what your destination winery has to offer, or to simply learn more about the exciting world of Pennsylvania wines, log in regularly at www.PAWineLand.com. There you will find information on upcoming wine events for Pennsylvania’s 12 wine trails and its more than 150 wineries as well as wine tips and wine information. And if you’re on the road, find nearby wineries by using the mobile website at m.pennsylvaniawine.com.