"Off-dry" wines, like this sweet-tart beauty, are a great place to begin exploring wine. Most people start out with a taste for sweetness, but because most fine wines are considerably drier, experienced wine drinkers tend to acquire a taste for styles that contain less sugar. A friendly kiss of sweetness is more common in bargain wines than in premium bottlings and, sadly, that leads many to stop drinking the "off-dry" wines they once enjoyed. However, just because poorly made wines are usually sweet does not mean that all wines with sweetness are poorly made. This succulent California gewürztraminer tastes delicious alone — laden with flavors of honeyed apricots, a tangy thread of citrusy acidity, and the heady scent of elderflower — but it can also be a remarkable food partner, with a flair for Asian cuisine. Ironically, members of the dry-minded connoisseur class are those most likely to seek out flattering pairings, but they often miss out on how brilliantly "off-dry" wines like this one partner with dishes where sweetness or spicy heat play a leading role. Simply by being more open-minded about sugar, newbies are more likely to discover these matches made in heaven.
Fetzer Gewürztraminer, Monterey, Calif., $6.99, (regularly $9.99; sale through Nov. 26) PLCB Item #7229.