The importance of being vinous
Vinosity is one of the most important aspects of good wine, in addition to flavour, length, weight and balance.Along with the unmistakable smell of wine, tartness and tightness are associated with vinosity.
That said, the word vinous can sometimes be used as a negative term to describe a wine that is plain, non-descript and without character. However, without an element of vinosity, wine ceases to taste like wine. Wine needs both flavour and vinosity.
Along with the unmistakable smell of wine, tartness and tightness are associated with vinosity. And in addition to acidity and flavour, phenolics also come into play. Vinosity is the summation of the elements that ensure a wine is sipped, not guzzled.
Sweetness can interfere with the vinosity of a wine. Aside from wines that have high acidity and balanced sweetness, like the great sweet rieslings of the world, or intensely concentrated flavours such as those found in dessert and fortified wine, sugar can reduce a wines vinosity.
Simple sweetness is like a cloak, masking subtleties of flavour and concealing the hook that makes a wine, taste like wine.
Sweetness is sometimes used as a tool to disguise imperfections in average table wines. A few sneaky grams-per-litre of sugar can make a rough red look a little softer, or make a hollow white a little rounded. Some winemakers use it as an instant fix to conceal a wine’s deficiencies or make a wine more palatable or consumer friendly.
When this is done well, without appearing obviously sweet, then there is no particular problem with this approach, especially if it means that more people will like the wine. Though, in general, I find sugar used in this way as distracting, as sweetness becomes the dominating flavour, masking the inherent aspects of a wine. It can also be a problem if you think you are buying a dry wine, but it ends up being sweet.
The trend towards drier rosés that are savoury, restrained and reserved is quite revealing as it shows that many people do enjoy more vinous styles of wine when they are presented in an approachable way. One needs to work up to loving the vinosity of wine.
Cool-climate riesling, dry Hunter semillon and vermentino are great options if you find yourself wanting a wine to sip and savour, rather than swill.