Lift Valentine's Day spirits with Sex -- Mawby's sparkling wine

Susan R. Pollack
Special to The Detroit News

There's no better way to lift your spirits and add some sizzle to Valentine's Day -- or any celebration in pandemic times -- than Sex.

Yes, Sex -- in this instance a sparkling dry rose – that can be delivered to your doorstep. It comes by way of a subscription service from Mawby Sparkling Wines, an award-winning winery on Michigan’s Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City. 

For $29 annually, the subscription offers locked-in, discounted pricing – and free shipping -- on unlimited bottles of Sex delivered in Michigan and 16 other states, including Ohio, Florida and Arizona. They’re sold in 6- and 12-packs for $99 and $169 plus tax, respectively.

Mawby's Sex sparkling dry rose

For those wanting just a taste, Sex also is sold in Meijer stores in Michigan and much of the Midwest, and some metro Detroit wine shops, for about $14-$17 per bottle.

A proven fan-favorite, Mawby’s provocatively-named pink sparkler is a brut blend of Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Chardonnay, Riesling and Muscat grapes that are hand-picked, whole-cluster pressed and naturally fermented twice in stainless steel tanks via the cuve close – or closed tank – method.

It could be your new guilty pleasure.

“This is a great price for high-quality sparkling wine delivered to your door,” says Michael Laing, co-owner of Mawby Sparkling Wines, which produces bubblies exclusively, including wines, ciders and canned products. “It’s easily approachable for most budgets.”

Since it’s easy to become addicted to Sex, Laing says with a wink, a subscription is the way to go. So far, nearly 100 Sex fans have subscribed, and the winery plans to kick-up its marketing efforts this year. “It’s a good deal,” he says. “We want to get Sex into people’s hands. We’re trying to spread the word.”

One satisfied subscriber, quoted on the Mawby Sparkling Wines website, said he ordered a case of Sex shipped to Florida and, “It absolutely made our Thanksgiving.”  

Mawby Sparkling Wines, the latest branding incarnation for this esteemed Leelanau Peninsula winery, is one of northern Michigan’s oldest commercial vineyards, dating back to the 1970s. Pioneering founder Larry Mawby, who retains partial ownership but has stepped back from daily operations, started making traditional method sparkling wines in 1984 and earned an international reputation for his efforts.  

With its clean, crisp taste, Sex proved an early winner and remains Mawby’s best-seller among its current 18-product lineup. “It’s half of our entire production,” Laing says of the mid-size sparkling winehouse that turns out 25,000 to 30,000 cases annually. “Sex is on the lower end, price-point-wise, of our total portfolio.”

Ready for some Sex education?

After the grapes are hand-picked and pressed, the juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks, then blended with reserve wines and fermented a second time in the cuve close method. The wine is then filtered, dosaged (balanced with sugar) and bottled. Voila! – it’s sparkling Sex in a bottle. 

“Sex is naturally fermented twice. It’s not carbonated,” says Laing. “The bubbles are natural bubbles from the second fermentation. The wine is medium-bodied and fruit-forward with soft red-berry aromas. I would put it on the sweeter end of a dry rose. It appeals to a wide range of palates.”

As such, he says, “Sex goes well with anything, from burgers and pasta dishes with cream sauce to smoked salmon salad, crab cakes and oysters. It has residual sugar to balance the spice in a lot of ethnic foods, including Chinese, Thai and sushi.” 

Laing suggests buying a bottle for Valentine’s Day or any occasion, especially now that we’re all cooped up during the pandemic.