In the weeks preceding Valentine’s Day, storefronts often look like they’ve been sprayed down in Pepto Bismol or been redesigned by Victoria’s Secret – red and pink hues dominate the windows and shelves, reminding us that the day where one celebrates love is fast approaching.Though I don’t mind a pink card or the occasional box of chocolates, the best pink for Valentine’s Day comes in liquid form – rosé. More specifically, rosé Champagne. Pink bubbles are a perfect fit for Valentine’s Day, whether you are celebrating with your sweetie, your best friends or curled up with a good book. Most rosé wine gets its pink color from a process known as “saignée,” when juice is removed after a brief maceration time with its skins, enough time to gain color, but not long enough to gain the typical red wine characteristics. This is the most common practice for sill rosé. Occasionally, though much less common, red wine is blended with white to make rosé, except in Champagne, where this is the norm rather than the exception. Champagne is already a blend of different lots of still wine, often different vintages of still wine. To make rosé Champagne, still red wine is added to the blend to impart a rose color. The final blend then undergoes the typical secondary fermentation in the bottle to create those magnificent bubbles. Though some producers do use the saignée method, adding still red wine to the blend is more common in Champagne. Rosé Champagne is such a delight to drink. The essence of Champagne with a pink tinge, giving the wines a bit more body and a whole different personality. Still lively and fresh, it is one of those wines that makes the occasion! Some favorite producers include Pol Roger, Gosset, Henriot, Taittenger and Ruinart. If not Champagne, try some sparkling wine versions outside of the region, like Graham Beck (South Africa), Lucien Albrecht (Alsace), Jansz (Australia) and Roederer (California). And if you’re not into bubbles, just going pink is an excellent February plan. We even have two very cool gift ideas for giving pink – a half-dozen or dozen “rosés,” which equal a half case or case of mixed rose wines. I have to tell you, this is MUCH better than flowers in my opinion, though I’d be happy to take both!
It was perhaps the wettest June on record in the Pacific Northwest. Well thank goodness it was a record, because if this was normal I'd be moving back to California in a heartbeat. But summer did finally decide to show up and we even had a heatwave!
One of the reasons I missed this hot weather was because of my rose. I look forward to rose wine every summer, because while it tastes good anytime of the year, I find it very seasonal and it is one of my quintessential summer wines. And when temperatures are in the 80s it's all I want to sip – somehow it is not as appealing when it's 50 degrees and raining.
Consumers have come around for the most part in accepting pink wine as a quality beverage. Though rose has been made for decades – centuries actually – most Americans associate it with the sweet blush White Zinfandels that became so popular in the 1980s. Well, DRY rose is back on people's table. Thank goodness! And as we enter another high-temperature weekend, here are some fun rose facts – dry vs. sweet.
The traditional rosé method (for dry rose), saignée, creates a pink wine by pressing red grapes and allowing the juice only a brief period of contact the skins, retaining a bit of color, but lacking the heavy influence of tannins.
France is the only country to have a region whose production is restricted to rosé. One of the oldest appellations in France, Tavel is a pink only Appellation Controllée.
Dry rose is crisp and refreshing like a white wine, but with a touch of red characteristics in fruit flavor and texture.
White Zinfandel is made with Zinfandel grapes, but with a faster process and added sugar. It's almost always sweet.
In 1991, White Zinfandel accounted for 34% of wine sales nationally. Today, it still accounts for 10% of wine sales in the U.S.
As with all fun, festive celebrations, beverages are key to your Fourth of July party. And because you’re celebrating our nation’s birthday, keeping the wine American is a nice tribute. After all, our wine industry has come a long way since Mr. Jefferson’s attempt at vine growing in Virginia. As we gear up for the grill and what will go on it, I’ve been pondering the question – What to pair with it all?Here are some wine picks for some typical 4th of July grills – some are common matches, but that’s because they work so well!
Rubicon Cask Cabernet Sauvignon ‘05, and it’s one of my favorite California Cabs (organic grapes, too!) – it’s perfect for a small gathering as it’s a more pricey wine. It would be amazing with a grilled ribeye with just a little salt & pepper. Yum…For larger get togethers, you’re going to want fun AND affordable – stock up on Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon ‘06 – good producer for under $20.Love Syrah with meat. I’m often torn between peppery, spicy Syrah vs. Juicy, fruit-concentrated Syrah… It’s great to find a wine with both and the Havens Hudson Vineyard Syrah ‘04 does just that. But it’s also on the more pricy side, at the $40 mark – but SO worth it! If you’re really adventurous, try pairing it with grilled leg of lamb.For the everyday (under $20), crowd-pleasing Syrah, try Bonterra’s Organically Grown Syrah ‘06 or Bonny Doon’s Le Pousseur Syrah ‘05.
Oregon Pinot Gris– my pick for chicken and/or veggiesOregon Pinot Gris is so delightful in the heat. It’s refreshing, but also so aromatic and lovely to sip over a summer evening. It’s hard to recommend producers as I have not yet had an Oregon Pinot Gris that I didn’t like! Some favorites include Adelsheim, Elk Cove, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Eyrie, Willakenzie Estate and King Estate. Most are on the ‘07 vintage, which was a cool vintage so the wines are nice and crisp. 2006 was warmer and that vintage produced a richer style of wine.
Rosé – My pick for pork, chips & salsa or anything with a spicy kick!Rosé can be a great aperitif before the dinner, but a hearty one will go great with pork or another meat, especially if you have some spice on it. From lighter style to heavier style & from dry to sweet – Etude, Bonny Doon & Red Truck’s Pink Truck are nice matches. Note that the Pink Truck is off dry, so some spice is nice (try salsa on the pork).
Zinfandel –My pick for burgersThe great American grape. With the great American food. The sweet fruits & spice are a great match to a juicy burger. Bogle Old Vines or Gnarly Head are great value Zinfandels. If you want to go a bit higher, try the Murphy Goode Liar’s Dice – it’s got some kick to it. Ravenswood is a reliable producer with lots of different single vineyard wines to try and Ridge is a classic – the Three Valleys is a great burger pick.
Bubbly – My pick for fireworksOkay, so you’re not grilling fireworks, but you definitely need some bubbles when you watch them! At the $20-ish mark, I love the Roederer Estate, Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs and Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rose. Also a great choice is the Argyle Brut – best bubbly in Oregon! So pop the cork and watch those fireworks sparkle.
It’s summertime, and the drinking is easy… and more often – we’re sipping wine during the day at BBQs and parties, in the sun and occasionally out of a plastic cup. I think of wine as seasonal and this is the season for crisp whites, juicy reds, and of course, the ultimate summer drink, rose! A good number of these wines are ideal for summer’s most popular container – the plastic cup.Some of my favorites that fall into this category: Sauvignon Blancs – Sauvignon Blanc is a perfect summer wine, particularly on those very hot days. They are excellent when served superc old, and their acidity is so deliciously refreshing. It makes a day gone bad become good. Chile and New Zealand are doing some excellent wines right now- some of my favorite producers include Santa Rita Floresta & Seresin. Rosé – I am a rose junkie. From about April to September it’s what I like to keep constantly stocked in the fridge. Just can’t get enough of the dry pink drink. Crisp and refreshing like a white wine, but with lingering characteristics of the red wine it never became. California, Australia, South Africa and France are my favorites for dry rose. For specific producers, check out Mulderbosch, Bonny Doon, Chateau d’Aqueria, and Angoves.Riesling – Riesling is too often overlooked because it’s the feared “sweet” wine. Not in every case! Not even in most cases. And the wines that are slightly sweet are balanced by a searing backbone of acidity, which gives it balance – something a good white wine needs. Add this to the reasonable alcohol level and you’ve got a perfect wine for BBQ food and long days in the sun. Try Pewsey Vale from Australia or Dom. Schlumberger from Alsace. Off the Beaten Path Whites – I love cool and different grapes, like Albariño, Torrontés and Grüner Veltliner. Try something new if you have not yet done so, as you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Beaujolais – Juicy is the best word to describe Beaujolais. I like to serve it slightly chilled and it goes great with lots of food styles. Duboeuf is a classic producer of Beaujolais. Rhone Reds –Rhone wines are great all year round, but they are delicious for pairing with anything off the grill, which makes them perfect summer reds. The Delas St-Esprit CDR is particularly good. Zinfandel – Jammy and fun, Zinfandel is the typical wine for BBQ. It’s got the fruit, spice and tannins to match all that spice & sauce. Just watch the alcohol, it can be dangerous… Some great Zins are made by Murphy-Goode, Kenwood and Ridge.