A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from April 14, 2015
“Americans talk dry, but drink sweet” (wine adage)

"Americans talk dry, but drink sweet” is an old saying about the taste that many Americans have in wines. Americans say that they want a dry wine, but ending up drinking a sweet wine.

“They talk dry and drink sweet” was cited in 1966. “Americans talk dry but drink sweet” was cited in 1969. It’s not known who first authored the saying.


12 February 1966, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, LA), “Whiskey Value Is Talked Here,” sec. 3, pg. 11, col. 3:
In evaluating the manner in which people consume their whiskey, he (Jack Musick, president of Hiram Walker Inc.—ed.) surmised “they talk dry and drink sweet.”

22 January 1969, The Evening Times (Trenton, NJ), “Dry Wines Fine, But Don’t Overlook Sweet” by Robert J. Misch (WNS), pg. 26, col. 4:
Actually, Americans talk dry but drink sweet.

Google News Archive
17 July 1969, St. Petersburg (FL) Independent, “Wine on the Table” by William Clifford, pg. 11-B, col. 4:
We aren’t the first people to talk dry but drink sweet.

7 November 1970, Boston (MA) Herald Traveler, “For Spanish Businessmen: Sherry Replaces Coffee” by Donna Lee, pg. 32, col. 2:
Delgado, who is a ceremonial wine pourer in a Spanish bodega or winery, prefers dry sherry. But he finds that most Americans talk dry but drink sweet, and prefer an oloros (less dry) sherry.

Google Books
The Red, White & Rosé of Wines
By William Edman Massee
New York, NY: Dell
1972
Pg. 54:
This is all quite confusing to the wine trade, which says that people talk dry but drink sweet, and sees to it that low-priced wines meant for the widest possible market are safely on the sweet side.

Google Books
Massee’s Guide to Wines of America
By William Edman Massee
New York, NY: Saturday Review Press; distributed by E.P. Dutton
1974
Pg. 12:
In the eyes of producers, Americans talk dry and drink sweet, but not too sweet; to producers, this means that a dry wine should not be too dry, and a sweet one should be only moderately sweet.

Google News Archive
22 June 1983, Beaver County (PA) Times, “Americans prefer wines dry and sweet” by Ann Cooper (The Baltimore Sun), pg. B6, col. 1:
When it comes to wine, Americans talk dry and drink sweet.
(...)
In wine terminology, the opposite of sweet is not sour. It is dry. The “talk dry” rule reflects the generally-held belief that many Americans will say they prefer dry wines, but in fact will choose something with a sweet flavor over a wine that is truly dry.

Google Books
The Wall Street Journal Guide to Wine
By Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher
New York, NY: Broadway Books
1999
Pg. 211:
The old saw in the wine industry is that ‘Americans talk dry but drink sweet,” and most “White Zin” tends to be slightly sweet, simple, and refreshing.

New York (NY) Times
THE POUR
Wine in Two Words
By ERIC ASIMOV
Published: February 22, 2011
(...)
First, though, let’s define our terms, beginning with sweet, one of the more alarming words to American wine drinkers. Alarming? Naturally. For years, the cliché in the wine trade has been, “Americans talk dry but drink sweet.” Some of the most popular American wines, like Kendall-Jackson Vintner Select chardonnay, are made with unannounced residual sugar in them.

wine-searcher
A Sweet Lament: The Riesling Backlash Begins
Sommeliers keep pushing sweet Riesling but it’s varietal suicide, Jason Wilson claims.

By Jason Wilson | Posted Wednesday, 15-Apr-2015
(...)
I hear from people all the time who tell me that they are interested in Riesling, want to love Riesling, and yet find themselves staring at the store shelf or the wine list and wondering: “Is this one sweet or dry?” After all, the old adage that “Americans talk dry and drink sweet” is pretty much bullshit, at least among regular, higher-end wine buyers. Experienced wine drinkers are not idiots. They can tell a sweet wine when they taste one – and many of them simply don’t like it. After too many sweet surprises, they’ll skip Riesling altogether.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityFood/Drink • Tuesday, April 14, 2015 • Permalink