Pink: May not wear it, but I’ll drink it

21st June 2010

While I don’t care for pink in my wardrobe, pink in my wine glass is another matter…

Whether it’s a rosé from the Loire Valley of France or the ubiquitous White Zinfandel, there is a rosé wine for everyone.    The last few years I have seen a shift in consumer’s impressions of the rosé wine.  I can remember a time in the not so distant past when the mention of a pink wine would send the noses of oenophiles (wine geeks) flaring in contempt.  This is primarily the fault of the White Zinfandel craze that started in the 1970′s.  Now, the tide of consumer desire has shifted and when I walk into the local wine shop, I am greeted by full displays of this pink delight.

Traditional rosé wines are generally dry in style.  This is in contrast to White Zinfandel, which is usually produced as a sweet wine.  So, while White Zinfandel is technically a rosé, many wine drinkers dismiss it because of its sweetness (I have included a recommended sweet treat below- check it out). Yet, if you ask those same dismissive drinkers where they started in the wine world, chances are, it was with White Zin.  There is nothing inherently wrong about White Zinfandel.  Like art, the wine you choose is a matter of personal preference.  If you choose a wine that makes you smile when you drink it, you have chosen wisely.

Rosé wines are made using three different methods:

Grape Skin Contact:  To get that wonderful red color we enjoy while drinking a red wine, the winemaker crushes red grapes, then takes the crushed grape skins and puts them into the vat with the juice.  The longer the juice remains in contact with the red grape skins, the deeper the wine’s color.  The red grape skin gives red wine its color.  To produce a pink wine, the winemaker shortens the amount of time the juice remains in contact with the red grape skins.

Bleed the Vats: This method takes grape juice that has been bled (drained) from vats that contain juice that will become red wine.  The winemaker’s goal is to make a red wine, not a rosé. They want their red wine to be concentrated and deeply colored.  To accomplish this, they decrease the volume of juice in the vat so the remaining juice can soak up more color from the red grape skins.  The juice that is drained from the vat is sometimes pink and can be used to produce a rosé wine.

Mix white and red: Though not encouraged and often frowned upon, mixing a red wine and a white wine can make a rosé.  Red + White = Pink!

My philosophy is “Drink what you like.”  The biggest sin in my book is being a great pretender.  A person who will spend a small fortune on a wine they don’t really enjoy because it’s liked by the masses.  They pretend to like a wine because someone tells them it is what they should drink.  I try to keep it real folks…here’s what I like.  Nothing fancy, just plain old fun.

I’M (Isabel Mondavi) Deep Rosé of Cabernet (Napa Valle, CA): I tweeted about I’M Deep Rosé by Isabel Mondavi on Tuesday.  This deep colored wine has strawberry, cherry, and red apple flavors.  It is crisp and mouth watering.  The Grape Skin Contact method was used to produce this wine.

2008 Santa Digna (Miguel Torres) Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé (Chile): This is one of my favorite rosé wines.  Its floral aromas and fruity character make this a great patio ready wine.  Santa Digna has beautiful red fruit (cranberry, strawberry) with crisp acidity.  The Grape Skin Contact method was used to produce this wine.

2009 Rosa Regale (Banfi) Brachetto (Acqui Terme, Italy): This is a great SWEET treat.  Best yet, it’s sparkling!  Rosa Regale is a semi-dry (lightly sweet) sparkling rosé from Italy.  It’s fun and festive.  It has Raspberry flavors with crisp acidity and a touch of sugar.

2009 A to Z Rosé (A to Z Wineworks) Sangiovese (Oregon): This is a fun wine made with 100% Sangiovese, an Italian grape.   Sangiovese traditionally produces a full-bodied red wine.  As a rosé, this Sangiovese produces beautiful floral (roses) aromas and strawberry flavors.

Rosé wines are the perfect summer time wine.  They are generally very approachable and you can serve them chilled.   They go great with food, especially when dealing with a smorgasbord of traditional picnic foods.  Pick one up today!

Cheers, Brandon.

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