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Column: This local wine is a great first sip for millennial drinkers
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Yonah Mountain Vineyards' Young American Purple offers a fruit-forward and slight dry red wine. - photo by Kelsey Podo

As most of you know, I’m a bit of a beer snob. Wine isn’t exactly my territory, but I decided to change things up this week because — I reluctantly admit — I get tired of beer sometimes. 

Growing up making ridiculously sweet muscadine wine with my family, I always tried to convince myself that I adored wine. 

I wanted to look extra cool in not only my friends’ eyes, but my parents’. 

Did I truly like my first couple of sips of wine? Absolutely not.  

In time, I grew to like sugar-forward wine, and my palate shifted away from sweet styles to preferring its drier, crisp cousins like cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc. 

I learned at an early age that most can’t dive into wine. You have to get your toes wet first. 

Yonah Mountain Vineyards in Cleveland recently released Young American Purple, a 2016 vintage, off-dry red that offers a gateway to the world of bold wine.  

Justin DePascale, the winery’s tasting room manager and assistant wine maker, said the wine was aged for 3.5 years in French and Hungarian oak barrels. It is almost entirely made of merlot grapes, apart from the small dose of cabernet sauvignon concentrate blended into the wine. 

“We had merlot, then instead of adding sugar, we wanted to intensify the flavor with some pre-fermented juice,” DePascale said.  

This off-dry red is one of four in Yonah Mountain Vineyard’s Young American lineup, which includes a dry red, white and rose.  

DePascale said he likes to call it “a wine for millennials” because of its approachableness. 

“We want to bridge the gap between new wine drinkers and the more established wine drinkers,” he said.  

When I opened my bottle of Young American Purple, the strong aroma of Jolly Rancher candy wafted into the air. The sweetness was undeniable but not unpleasant. 

Upon taking my first sip, the sweetness of the wine seized me.  

As someone who has grown used to drinking bitter and hoppy brews, this bright wine startled me from my Sunday evening lull.  

After a couple of seconds, the strong notes of cherries and strawberries began to fade, and the wine smoothed out into something slightly dry and complex. A bit of vanilla pierced through the drink, which honestly, was my favorite part of the experience. 

Although I still prefer drier wine, Young American Purple was delightful. If you’re wanting to ease off your moscato and dip your toes into another realm of wine, I encourage you to try this fruity creation. 

Bottles of Young American Purple can be purchased at Yonah Mountain Vineyards, which is located at 1717 Highway 255 S in Cleveland. If you’re not eager to drive to the beautiful vineyard with a mountainous backdrop, the wine is also available for delivery. For more information, contact 706-878-5522. 

Young American Purple 

Winery: Yonah Mountain Vineyards 

Style: Merlot with a hint of cabernet sauvignon concentrate  

Bottom line: A beautiful gateway into wine drinking