The Wine is Dry and You’ll Like it, Damn It!

A new survey conducted on behalf of Jordon Winery answered the question, at what age do Americans begin appreciating wine. The answer was 29 years old. The survey doesn’t answer why it takes this long, and that’s disappointing.

However, the survey did ask the question what does the average American like about wine:

“Americans prefer their wine to be smooth (56 percent), fruity (48 percent), and sweet (47 percent)…”

This is interesting but hardly surprising. All you have to do is into the past and to the present at the popular types of wines that have caught the attention of Americans going back to “Fighting Varietals”, Bartles and James, and through to the Red Blend craze and the current Rosé mania. Each and everyone of these trends highlighted sweet, non-tannic, fruity drinks.

Americans like their liquid SWEET. Why, I don’t know. I know I like sweet drinks. Diet Pepsi, Roy Rogers, Jack Daniels. Sauterne, cider.

However, I like my wine fairly dry. I’ve learned to like it that way. And so do most experienced drinkers. However, ask the average American Bordeaux or Burgundy lover how they used to drink their wines when beginning their foray into the wine category and they will tell you the same thing: I liked it sweet.

An interesting question to ask is did those who migrated from sweet wine to dry wines do so because they were told to or because they developed a taste for it? The answer is probablly a bit of both, but I’d wager that a considerable number were able to develop a taste for dry over sweet wines because they were told they should. 


3 Responses

  1. Fred Peterson - July 27, 2018

    Not surprised at all. It wasn’t so much that I was told that I should like dry wines as when I started to go out to decent restaurants and ordered wine to accompany the meal. Growing up with wine on my mothers side of the family (Italian), I was exposed to table wines and was allowed to taste small amounts of wine, but as a kid I thought it was “sour”. After high school made the progression from Boones Farm, etc to Lancers/Mateus Rose (when I wanted to impress my date). For me the enjoyment of dry wine (epiphany, if you will) happened when I was in the Navy (’68-’72). When import in a big city I would try and go to nice restaurants and the wine lists were mostly French and Italian wines. The synergy of decent (dry) table wine and good food became real…….

  2. Melinda - July 27, 2018

    Fascinating. My elder brother and I grew up drinking (mostly European) wines from our family’s cellars and we still do. Dry reds, dry whites, medium whites (Germans, mainly) and sweet whites. Ah, and the odd amazing Madeira or Port. The States only entered into my repertoire when I came to the USA for my undergrad degree. Oh, and, by the way, in the UK the legal age for consumption in your parents’ home is 5 years of age. Needless to say, our parents were not quite that insane.

  3. Jrmack59 - July 28, 2018


    I found the results a bit surprising insomuch as they relate to sweet wines. I do have friends in this category but they are the exception. I as well much prefer dry wines but I came to that conclusion on my own. I guess I am in 20% self-discovery group, but no doubt there was a learning and experience curve to navigate.

    Everyone will have had their own, unique wine journey, and nearing 60 it is interesting and a bit nostalgic for me to take a look back. My Midwestern working-class family had no wine tradition (my father keeping a bottle of Thunderbird in the fridge for goodness sakes!), and thus it was a random-walk in the early days, with no mentors, and years before widespread internet connectivity. In those days and in my situation, wine information and the opportunity to experience wine culture was not readily available.

    I was no doubt influenced by sweet wine beginning in high school. Not because I liked it all that much but it had some advantages; cheap, available, often fortified, and thus good for partying. So sue me, I was young and restless and bored to borrow a phrase. At 21, the age required to legally purchase wine at retail liquor stores in my home state, I began buying bottles of wine that were actually sealed with a cork for the first time. Okay, it was White Zinfandel initially, simply because it was trendy at the time, and I didn’t know any better. I still remember the first bottle being from Inglenook. Gradually I tried various red and white wines, but gravitating toward the drier ones rather quickly.

    Sometime during the first couple years of graduate school I was having dinner with my then girlfriend at her place. She baked some chicken that we ate along with California white jug wine. The wine was nothing special, but I recall how much I enjoyed having the food and wine together, and knew that I wanted to learn much more about wine in general.
    From there I bought a few used wine books at a local resale shop (Hugh Johnson/Jancis Robinson, and others) and the rest is my wine history to date.

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