Vol. 1, No. 18, May 17, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.
Pretty in Pink
As summer spreads across the Northern Hemisphere and puts us in mind of cool, refreshing drinks, I'd like to turn our attention toward pink wine, a category that gets surprisingly little respect.
Traditionally, rosé (with an accent mark over the 'e' that may disappear in our plain-text edition) is a wine made from red wine grapes, in which the color-imparting skins are removed from the fermenting vessel after a short time, just long enough for them to "bleed" an attractive pink, copper, salmon or, well, rosy hue to the wine without reaching the deep color of a serious red. The resulting wine is typically light, fresh and crisp, and traditionally it was made bone-dry -- a perfect wine to serve ice-cold on a sultry summer evening.
It's also possible to make rosé by blending red and white wines; in fact, the Champagne called Blanc de Noirs -- perhaps the classiest pink of them all -- is made in just that way.
I think attitudes toward pink wine started to change in the U.S. during the 1970s, when the market demand for white wines exceeded the supply, prompting wine makers to invent "White Zinfandel," a white wine made from red grapes. Initially vinified as a true white, it quickly became a craze as wineries discovered that it sold better when made pink and fairly sweet. Dubbed "blush" wine, it's now a staple of the bargain bins, but it's not usually seen on the tables of serious wine fanciers.
But the original rosé (sometimes called "Vin Gris" or "gray wine," particularly when it's on the pale side of pink) can be something else entirely, and if you haven't tried one for a while, I commend it to your attention.
What's your opinion? Thumbs up or thumbs down on dry, crisp pinks? Write me at email@example.com and let me know. And, as always, please don't hesitate to drop us a line if you'd like to comment on our topics and tasting notes, suggest a topic for a future bulletin, or just talk about wine.
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Domaine Grand Veneur 1997 Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($8.49)
FOOD MATCH: Fine with a simple pasta dish of conchiglie with peas, spinach and ham. ("Pink wine with pink meat"?)
Charles Melton 1997 Barossa Valley (Australia) Rosé of Virginia ($16.99)
FOOD MATCH: Works well with thick pork chops braised with rosemary and garlic.
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