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What’s Old Is New: Retro Wine Is Hip

Wine is trendy.

It has been for a few decades now as it becomes more accessible to everyday people who want to drink decent quality wine at affordable prices. It permeates movies and television shows and has become the replacement for trendy cocktails. And like all trends, there are cycles. So while new wines are emerging every day and offering new grapes, or old grapes done in a new way, we are also seeing people dust off the wines of their parents and bringing them back into style. Right now, it’s 1970’s wine that’s cool. Here are a few to try out along with suggested pairings and our guesses as to other wines we’ll be seeing a resurgence in over the next year or two.
The cool kids are often found sporting styles from long ago – just look around you the next time you’re out and you’re sure to find high schoolers rocking 70’s inspired styles be they bohemian headbands and sundresses or flared jeans. The older crowd is wearing Raybans and drinking Pabst. The cool bands are using heavy instrumentation, organs, and heavy guitar to bring back that seventies sound. Believe it or not, the trend doesn’t only apply to clothing. Have you noticed fondue restaurants popping up in your city? Fondue was hugely popular in the 70’s. And it’s back. Same with deviled eggs, which have made a huge resurgence at parties and all over Pinterest. It’s not surprising, then, that people are dusting off the the old wines with the fondue pots and exploring those pairings.

Retro Wine #1 – Sherry

Sherry is a fortified wine. This is a wine that is sweetened with distilled alcohol like a liqueur or brandy and usually served for dessert. Its base wine is often sweet leading many drinkers to equate sherry with sickly sweet dessert wine. It was popular in the seventies and the seventies have made a resurgence which means it’s being brought out again. And along with the sickly sweet, people are realizing that there is a great deal more to sherry than the sips grandpa used to sneak at Christmas. In fact, sherry is a highly underrated wine that can complement many foods if it’s understood.

Types Of Sherry

Sherry isn’t just sweet. Like most large categories of wine there is a variety to be tasted and tested. Likewise, it can take a while to find the right one. Here are some common types of sherry and suggestions for how to find the right one for you and, of course, how to pair it perfectly.

  • Dry Sherry: Yes, there is dry sherry. It can span from flinty and minerally to earthy and nutty. The driest sherries are those categorized as “Fino” which do not oxidize at all during fermentation. These dry sherries are best enjoyed with salty foods: a charcuterie of salted nuts, briny olives and hard cheeses, for example. Look for sherries made with Palomino grapes if you want to try a dry sherry.
  • Middle Of The Road Sherry: While not a technical term, there are sherries that fall between dry and sweet, and an example of this is the Amontillado. Allowed to oxidize after being protected from the process, the end result is a brown, light, delicate wine less sweet than a sweet sherry but with hints of nuts and caramel. These are beautiful on their own, a great place to start your experimentation and are best enjoyed with poultry and savory soups with poultry bases. If you like this but want something with a fuller body, try Olorosso, which is oxidized the entire time.
  • Sweet Sherry: If you are trying sherry, you have to try a sweet one, even if it’s only one taste. And there are sweet sherries worth trying. Sweet sherries are made using Moscatel grapes. Moscatel sherry is similar to Moscato but much fuller bodied. It is made with sun-dried grapes that are sweet and produces a wine that has notes of citrus, honey and flowers. While it can be enjoyed alone, it is best paired with a sweet, soft dessert that is light in flavor – think flan or crème brûlée. For the sweetest sherry experience, try a Pedro Ximénez. Made in the same manner as Moscatel this sherry also uses sun-dried grapes, 85% of which must be Pedro Ximénez grapes. It is dark, rich and sweet and a small glass is dessert in itself.

Retro Wine #2 – Sweet, Sparkling Moscato

Moscato, specifically Moscato d’Asti, is a sweet, white wine that is actually a frizzante – a wine with fine bubbles meant to offset sweetness. It is made in northwest Italy. Unlike sherry, which is a category, Moscato d’Asti is a specific type of wine. Low in alcohol, this fizzy drink has citrus notes and is incredibly light. Hugely popular in the 1970’s it is making a huge comeback. Partially because of a love of all things 1970’s but also due to the hip hop community boycotting Champagne, specifically Cristal, after questionable comments were made by a higher up in the Cristal organization regarding “bling culture” and its connection to the drink. Since then, rappers and hip hop artists have started drinking Moscato d’Asti and have likely played a huge rule in the 73% rise in the drink’s popularity since 2011.

Moscato d’Asti is often overlooked as diners reach for Proseccos and Champagnes but give this fizzy wine a try and you might just find you like the surprisingly light, surprisingly well-priced drink.

A serious benefit to this wine is its ability to pair with things that are often hard to pair with wine, like Chinese Food. The bubbles and sweetness nicely cut through spice and constantly cleanse the palate, allowing for a better dining experience. Chinese not your thing? Moscato d’Asti also pairs well with chicken and other white meats, flaky fish, barbecue and vegetarian fare like tofu, bell peppers, carrots and celery. Also consider pairing with dishes that have tropical fruits prepared with savory spices like fennel, cinnamon, and cilantro. Dessert pairings should be light and fruity – sorbets, light tarts, and fruit.

What’s Next In Hip Retro Wine?

With 70’s food and at least two wines making a comeback what can we expect next? Sweet was in and while it’s been pushed aside for the New World style of wines we love so much, it could come back just like birkenstocks and garage bands. The 70’s were synonymous with sweet wines like Nuns, Boone’s Farm, Cold Duck and Pear Cider. Since many of these come with a stigma, it is unlikely that there will be a huge resurgence. However, look for homages to these seventies favs in things like cocktails made with wine and sherry, alcohol-infused treats like ice cream sundaes with sherry used in place of chocolate sauce or caramel or a petite sorbet or sherbet ball in a glass of Moscato d’asti, as well as cheesecakes and cookies like the stylish macaron having flavors influenced by these sweet wines.

What’s your favorite sweet wine? What’s one you might try based on these descriptions, pairings and dessert ideas?

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