That’s what a friend of mine calls them. Another describes them as the sort of wines you could walk a mouse over. That’s right, I’m talking about bodybuilder wines, those made by people whose philosophy is that if ripe is good, then riper is better; if alcoholic is good, then more alcoholic is better; ditto for oak (and weight of bottle if you feel so inclined). It’s wine for those who respond to adverts inviting you to increase the size of your, er, wherewithal. It’s wine for those who prefer the pneumatic charms of Pamela Anderson and Jordan to naturally beautiful women. It’s wine for those who spend hours in the gym making themselves more attractive only to others who spend hours in the gym. It’s wine on steroids.
‘But we pick grapes on flavour, rather than sugar levels.’ All well and good, but as anyone who has ever done a lot of blind tastings will confirm, the wines that seduce based on a single sip aren’t necessary the ones that pass the empty bottle test. It’s the same with grapes. A very sweet grape might taste great, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into long lived, elegant wine wine with that oft-neglected quality of being REFRESHING.
American retailer Darrel Corti recently caused a storm by banning any wine with more than 14.5% alcohol form his Sacramento store, and found himself on the receiving end of various diatribes, although none were from his actual customers. 14.5% is a somewhat arbitrary figure – and would exclude a huge swathe of (among others) Australian Shiraz, Californian Zinfandel and Chateauneuf du Pape. But Corti’s point – and it’s a point more and more people are agreeing with – is that he’s fed up with wines that want to beat him around the head and impress him, rather than than soothe and caress him.
With wine, just as with people, there is big-boned, and there is obese. Bring on the wine diet…