As everyone knows, Vino 301 Wine Concierge is a big cheerleader for Maryland wine and culture. I can safely say no one has ever questioned our love for local wine. A few, some, … actually a lot have questioned why. Why do you love Maryland wine?
Most people do not directly ask why. They give me a strange look or a raised eyebrow when I mention the many virtues of Maryland wine. Some will actually make statements like, “Maryland primarily makes sweet, fruity wine. That’s ok if you like that type of wine.” Translation: How could you possibly call that wine. It is an adult version of Kool-Aid.” More direct individuals will state, “It is ok to drink, but I would not recommend it.”
As one of Maryland’s biggest cheerleader, it is my obligation to debunk the greatest myth ever told.
Myth – Maryland primarily makes sweet, fruity wines.
There is some truth to this statement like most myths. Yes, winemakers make sweet, fruity wine. Sweetland Cellars is a great example. Sweetland Cellars is a brand of Boordy Vineyard. Sweetland are grape and fruit wines. They are intended to be light,refreshing, and sweet hence the name. They are perfect to drink by themselves or as base to a cocktail.
Many Maryland winemakers have semi-dry or sweet wines in their profile for those with a sweeter palate. However, all Maryland winemakers make dry vino. They use traditional methods that are artisan crafted resulting in noteworthy aromas, flavors and body. They are recognized nationally and internationally. The Daily Meal All Things Food & Drink, a national publication, recognized Black Ankle Vineyard in its list of 101 Best Wineries in America in March 2015. This list consisted of the country’s most acclaimed wineries.
Why does this myth exists? I have a theory. Maryland is a victim of its success. The Maryland Wine Festival is a wildly popular event. Thousands of people from several states attend this event. Facts to keep in mind: (1) The Festival is held in September. September is still humid and warm. (2) Majority of Americans prefer fruity and semi-sweet wines styles, according to the 2015 Survey of American Wine Consumer Preferences conducted by Wine Business.com. (3) The Festival is the only exposure some have to Maryland wine.
Put yourself in the vineyard managers’ shoes. You want people to try and buy your wine at the Festival. What do people want when it is hot and humid — a cool refreshing beverage. What do the majority of Americans enjoy drinking — fruity and sweet wines. In the same 2015 survey, 74 percent of people said red wine is their favorite. However, less than a quarter of the same people indicated they like dry, savory or tannic. Most people say they want a traditional wines, but they really prefer sweet. As vineyard managers, do you pour your higher price drier wines or your less expensive sweet and semi-dry? You give people what they really want. The sweeter wine resonate with the Festival attendees leaving the impression all Maryland wines are fruity and sweet.
Where Can You Try the Traditional Wines? Believe it or not, many of these wines are at the Wine Festival. Maryland Wine Festival showcases its Governor’s Cup winners in the premier tent. These are recognized as the best wines in Maryland. There is an additional cost to the admission to taste the wines.
You do not have to wait until the Festival. You can visit the vineyards. These wines are apart of the tasting menu at most vineyards at no additional cost. You get an opportunity to experience the full complement of Maryland’s grapes. Explore and see for yourself if the myth is true.