Certain sweet wine styles appeal to drinkers with very sweet palates, while others appeal widely, even to people who say that they don’t actually like sweet wines. The critical factor in a sweet wine with a very wide appeal is the presence of acidity.
Acid cuts through sweetness and allows wine to fall into some semblance of balance. It also has the dual job of bringing freshness to the finish. It is not uncommon for a young sweet wine to actually taste tangy and dry right at the back of the palate when in fact it is a very rich proposition. Acidity is the battery pack for red and white wine and a young sweetie will always end up showing more overt sugariness as time marches on and the acid subsides.
I say this because this late-picked Tokaji is the lowest rung on the ladder in the Tokaji sweetness scheme of things (which goes all the way up to essencia – you can imagine the impact of this style), and it is also a young wine, too.
It does indeed taste orangey with honeyed notes and almond flourishes, but it also possesses marmalade rind bitterness on the finish, which sucks the sweetness out of your palate, replacing it with a lovely “amaro” tang. It is a wine to drink with bitter chocolate and orangey puddings, but also with mature, hard cheese and nuts. It is sweet and dry in one breath and I love this counterpoint of seduction and then control.
• Matthew Jukes is a winner of the International Wine & Spirit Competition’s Communicator of the Year (MatthewJukes.com).