Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Roses for the Anti-Rose Fan

By this point, you’ve heard the merits of rose wine ad nauseum, whether from your friendly neighborhood wine writer, wine shop worker or pastor. And although I’m an advocate for drinking rose, even year-round, it’s especially worth a refresher now since summer has (finally) defrosted the last of the ice off my parka and I’m braving the occasional skirt.

Underlying the case for rose is how incredibly food-friendly it is. This also is the reason I could be the spokesperson for adding rose to your drinking repertoire regardless of the season.

Generally, rose has the “light” crispness of a white wine. It could be as dry as a saltlick or off-dry. And it has the flavor kick of a red, making it an easy palate pleaser. If you haven’t gotten over the “this-must-be-sickly-sweet-because-it’s-pink-and-furthermore-I-don’t-drink-pink-wine-because-it’s-frou-frou” attitude, then please, get over it. Soon. Don’t make me bring my full 100 pounds of intimidation over there and make you try it.

This isn’t the commercially manufactured pink-colored blend of red and white plonk. I’m talking about rose made either through the “saignee” or bleeding method, wherein some of the pink juice of a wine is run off early and then fermented, or by an abbreviated red wine production.

Ultimately, the best argument for drinking rose is that it’s simply pleasant. It’s the kind of wine that puts a smile on your face as you drink it. Maybe there isn’t a cause-and-effect relationship between rose and good spirits, but there is a correlation in that we tend to drink rose in the merriest of circumstances: picnics, barbecues, parties, sunny sidewalk cafes.

Regardless of where you drink it and whether or not you’re a fellow rose diehard, try one of my new favorites below. Maybe you’ll even stash a few bottles for autumn.

2009 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rose, South Africa. The taste of homemade strawberry preserves is unmistakable and adds to the soft and lingering finish.

2008 Bonterra Rose, Mendocino County, Calif. Almost fizzy on the first sip. A surprising note of crisp green apple is followed by a lovely strawberry shortcake-like finish.

2009 Torbreck Saignee Rose, Barossa Valley, Australia. A pleasantly different style of rose with a slightly creamy palate due to the six months spent in oak. It doesn’t fall into the super juicy and fruity category, but instead is almost savory.

2009 Cline Mourvedre Rose, Contra Costa County, Calif. Refreshing with a depth uncommon in most roses. Layers of spice complement dark plum flavors that yield a rose red-wine-only drinkers will eat up.

2009 Montes Cherub Rose of Syrah, Colchagua Valley, Chile. This picnic-perfect rose bursts with juicy berry and orange peel flavors.

1 comment:

NAVORN said...

I couldn't help adding a rose recommendation here: the Isabel's Cuvee Donkey and Goat rose is grenache-based, and it's probably the "meatiest" rose I've had. It has nice acidity and flavors of fresh berries, but it's also got a substantial mouthfeel that really sets it apart from other roses. If you're a person that considers roses too "frou-frou" or lightweight, this one may change your mind.

How to Pick a Summer Wine: The Gentler, Lighter Side of Wine

Summer’s soaring temps beg you to step away from heavy Cabernets and check out the gentler, lighter side of wine. When choosing the perfect summer wine for your outdoor engagement party or wedding, think light, crisp, refreshing--and because people tend to drink more in the heat--lower in alcohol. Nothing more prettily suggests summer than a dry (i.e. not sweet) rose. Avoid the simple, syrupy versions and try French roses from the Mourvèdre grape or roses made using the Saignee method for more complexity. Pick wines from countries where you imagine the locals sipping leisurely at sidewalk cafés while basking in the sun, like Spain. A Spanish fave is Albarino from the Rias Baixas region. Made to drink young, Albarino is a crisp, white wine with intense fruit, lively acidity and generally a lower level of alcohol. It pairs perfectly with summer foods from seafood to grilled vegetables. But you don’t need to swear off red wine for summer. Look for light bodied wines like Pinot Noir from Oregon or a Valpolicella from Italy, both capable of standing up to barbequed foods. And don’t be afraid to put a slight chill on your red wine. It is summer after all!

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain, “Exceptional with Everything” Oh Really?

There's nothing we love more than a challenge. It's in our makeup. We're two women, thirties. One Indian. One Filipina. The first, founder and CEO of a business in the arguably male-dominated wine world. The second, building experience to be a future proprietess of a wine store. Add to this: In New York City. So when presented with the opportunity to play wine and food critic for a night—to pair Rías Baixas Albariño wines, proclaimed to be "exceptional with everything" with Mercat’s offerings —it is impossible and simply against every ounce of who we are, to refuse.

Mercat means “market” in Catalan, the language of the northern Spanish region where owner, Jaime Reixach, is from and where the restaurant’s menu draws its inspiration. The albariños we’ll be drinking also originate from the northern region, and so we’re already anticipating more perfect wine pairings than tragic mismatches.

It’s a beautiful warm Thursday night—and we are tasting two Albariño wines: Alba Rosa from Martinez Serrantes and Pazo San Mauro, both 2006 vintages. We take our time with each wine—assessing them alone and then side by side. At the end, we agree that both are delightful: the Alba Rosa is sparkling with surprising depth while the Pazo San Mauro would bring life to our springtime picnic. Further, we imagine that if each wine were to be personified, they might just be these two ladies, described as such:

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"

Alba Rosa Martinez Serantes Albariño | Scarlett Johansson: "Sparkling with surprising depth"
This golden blonde hued wine gives an almost effervescent quality that shoots racy brightness into your mouth. It has the usual grassiness and citrus qualities one expects from this wine. The reason why this wine fits Scarlett most is because it has the quality of lightness but comes with surprising depth of character and fullness in body. The comparison would be perfect were the wine to show great legs, but its light-bodied, lower alcohol nature doesn’t allow it.

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”

Pazo San Mauro Albariño | Cameron Diaz: “Livens up your springtime picnic”
Cameron would be a fun addition to any springtime outing. Her lightheartedness would make everyone smile and this wine does the same. The light yellow straw color gives way to granny smith apples, peaches, melon, and citrus scents that jump at your nose, smelling like springtime in a glass. This wine begs to be explored further. The crisp and pleasantly tart apple is balanced with pear and makes it the perfect brunch wine.
Now, we move on to the heart of our challenge: Exceptional with everything? Oh really? How do these two beauties handle themselves in company? After the three and a half hours of glorious sipping, chewing, and chatting, among ourselves and the restaurant staff, here are our findings:

No surprise, our lovely wines get along splendidly with their classic and traditional partners: we have raves for the nicely seasoned patatas bravas—not too spicy, not too garlicky—and the padrones/blistered shishito peppers, the char and oil offset by the tartness of the wines. One of us goes wild for the Canelons de Verdura/eggplant wrapped spring vegetables, manchego, and cranberry reduction. And then Chef Lowder sends over Trencat d’Ous/mushroom with salsa verde topped with a fried egg, which again, goes splendidly with our wines. Even the suckling pig/Cochinillo, which we think will surely clash, in fact becomes the surprise of the evening. Like the beauty and the beast, our wines and the pig make an unlikely but harmonious pair.

We ask ourselves for the last time: Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with Everything?

If not for being the gluttonous bottomless pits that we are, we would certainly have answered YES with an exclamation point. But since we order those two desserts—Torrades Sta. Teresa/fried bread with lemon yogurt and Pa Amb Oli Xocolata/bread, olive oil, and chocolate, our answer must be: Almost. These two desserts with our two Albariños — are disastrous.

Rías Baixas Albariño from Spain: Exceptional with almost Everything.

--Anu Karwa and Marie Estrada

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