Sweet wines are everywhere. Previously eschewed for fear of being snubbed by snobs, wineries now proudly tout their full-frontal sugar on their labels. Consumers who love dessert for their appetizer should be in high heaven. Leading the pack is Moscato, whose popularity has shot up like blood sugar after a glass of it. But, sadly, most Moscatos lack balance. When I first started drinking wine in Europe, Swiss-grown Muscat (as it is called in French) tantalized my palate with sweetness and acidity. I reveled in its dry finish after my tongue feasted on a fruit salad of apricots, peaches and juicy, red apple.
I had not experienced this same sensation in a wine until recently in Franciscan’s 2012 Equilibrium from Napa.
An obvious competitor to Caymus’s Conundrum – whose sweetness levels have slowly inched up to meet demand – Equilibrium serves up the acidity and interesting fruit by the bowlful. This brand new wine sports 11% Muscat, so it deftly delivers a flowery fragrance that preps your palate for something different than Chardonnay. Which is 17% of the blend, with the remaining 72% from Sauvignon Blanc. Medium-bodied, Equilibrium offers up a rich helping of honeysuckle, apricots, ripe pear and then finishes with a steely swath of citrus. The sweetness is most definitely evident, but like a German Riesling, it is mellowed by the expertly applied, tart acidity.
Sweetness: 3 out of 10
Price: $17 – $23
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery and enjoyed with a Szechuan pork loin recipe
Availability: They made 5,949 cases so it’s likely out there to buy on specialty wine retailer shelves. or buy it direct from their website.
Food pairing: This wine pairs well with any Asian food (Indian curry, Chinese lo mein), chicken or pork with roasted pears or with blue cheeses like Point Reyes Blue.