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Inviting aromas of watermelon, dry cherry, cinnamon and rose petals. Refreshing flavors of ripe raspberry, strawberry, a touch of apricot and lemon zest make for a somewhat complex wine. Sip it alone, with an herbed-goat cheese cracker or cold fried chicken.
Two Thumbs Way Up
Aromas of rose petals, slate-like minerals and black cherry. Pinpoint acidity make for bright, crisp flavors of dark and red berry fruit. It makes your mouth water with every sip. It also had a creamy texture punctuated with spicy black pepper and cinnamon.
I absolutely love this time of year for a lot of reasons. Warm, sunny days full of outdoor activities. Mild evenings just right for dining outside. The end of the hectic pace surrounding elementary and middle school activities.
All those things are nice, but perhaps the most anticipated event of late spring and early summer is the arrival of the dry pink wines. I’ve been enjoying dry pink wines (a.k.a. rosés, rosadas and rosatas) since a trip to Spain nearly 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve watched excitedly as their popularity rose from near obscurity to Sex In The City trendiness. Today, dry pink wines seem to have found a permanent place on our tables and in our picnic baskets.
With all this history in mind, I’ve come up with my list of four simple rules for finding and enjoying this once-forgotten category—dry pink wines.
Rule No. 1—They Should Be Cheap. Let me rephrase. They should be affordable. Remember one man’s affordable is another’s car payment. Rosé specialist Château d’Esclans makes soul-stirring pink wines for $75 and $100 a pop. These, however, may be out of reach for many wine lovers in any circumstances.
In my recent review of 28 dry pink wines, I found a couple very nice $25 bottles. These still may a little pricey for some. But fear not! Ol’ reliable Marqués de Cáceres (one of my first dry pink wine faves) comes in at $10 and drinks great. A couple others, such as the $8 Protocolo Rosada (also from Spain), are also fine, inexpensive choices.
Why affordable? With too few exceptions to mention, dry pink wines are for NOW! They don’t age well and were not made to sit around too long. They were made to throw in an ice cooler and taken to an outdoor concert to be enjoyed in plastic cups along with cold fried chicken. You need an über-expensive wine for that?
Rule No. 2—Buy ’em Young. Sometimes on a wine list and in wine shops, you’ll see dry pink wines from two and three years ago priced to move. Avoid the temptation and take Rule No. 1 with a grain of salt. You’re better off paying an extra dollar or two for something from the 2009 vintage, for example, than being a disappointed cheapskate with a bottle of tired, uninteresting pink wine from 2007.
Rule No. 3—Get Over Your Screwtop Phobias. Screwtop wines are becoming more accepted, but there remain some romantics out there whose motto is: “Give me cork or give me death!” Save the corks for overpriced, ego-driven wines and bottles of bubbly. Embrace the simplicity of screwtops, which prevents any chance of dank, musty smells in your wine. I was pleasantly surprised to see many more pink wines this year underneath screwtops, especially from France, which has been somewhat resistant to non-cork closures.
Rule No. 4–Go to the South of France. Alas, not literally, but the majority of the winners in my sampling came from regions in the south of France, such as Provence and Coteaux de Languedoc. I had wines from five continents in my blind tasting and the French consistently were among the best. Provence and the areas around Languedoc have a long tradition of making dry pink wines, but so too do the winemakers from Spain and Italy. This year, there were a few misguided efforts from these latter two pink wine powerhouses. Domestic winemakers from the West Coast have picked up pink wines with gusto and proved their mettle with several fine examples (Belle Glos, Lucy—Rosé of Pinot Noir and Chateau Ste. Michelle, Nellie’s Garden, to name three). If fact, the top scorer in my book—trumping the wines from the south of France—was the 2008 Etude from Carneros, Calif.