Pink alcohol has long had a bad rap. From cosmos to white zin to Wasilla-distilled smoked salmon vodka, a glass of pink often points to a drinker with little taste, class or sanity. Or all three. We've done our share of salmon vodka bashing here on Stick a Fork in It as of late, but in the interest of fair-and-balanced blogging, this week we'll turn our Dueling Dishes eye towards another pink drink, that, due to guilt-by-association, is the subject of terrible marketing copy every summer--Real Men Drink Pink!--in an effort to develop a new and deservedly positive reputation for the beverage, rosé.
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Rosé has a lot in common with one of the aforementioned, oft-bashed boozes: white zinfandel. But let's be clear: white zin may be a rosé, but all rosés are not like white zin. So please: do not conjure up images of the late-80s, frosty glasses of sweet pink wine and plates of trifle being eaten daintily by women in shoulder pad-enhanced dresses. The best rosé are wholly different: dry and very, very pale, bearing some resemblance to white wines in terms of flavor, but with the added tastes of bright and fresh red fruits--strawberries, for one--thanks to the influence of the red varietals involved. And then there's the more intangible taste, which my palate and writing ability struggle to single out and describe. So to quote from my new favorite wine blog (which is practically as old as the dinosaurs, in Internet years) 750ml: "That's almost wholly the definition of great rose--taking the color and force out of red wine and replacing it with... seasoning" (it's a post well worth reading if you have a love or just an interest in rosé, so click, click away).
Simply put, rosé is fantastic stuff and is the perfect drink for summer. These two wines are a few bucks too much a bottle to make them possible contenders for a case purchase (my preferred means for buying rosé), but well worth trying none-the-less: Domaine de Triennes Rosé 2009 ($16.99) and Domaine de Rimauresq Petit Rosé 2009 ($14.99)
The Triennes--a blend of Cinsault, Merlot and Syrah--had the right hue, just tinged pink by the skins for its all-red varietal blend. With lots of acidity, its flavor was less easily defined, specific fruits falling behind the veil of its rosé-essence and maybe a bit too much alcohol content. Compared to the Rimauresq--a Provencal rosé, like the Triennes--the Triennes was the less complex. The Rimauresq (Cinsault, Grenache) was full of uncanny presence fresh and flavorful strawberries, delivered with a good balance of acid and alcohol, making it a thoroughly refreshing and fulfilling wine to drink.
Provencal rosés, or rosés from France in general, are often a good bet--practically guaranteed to at least go through the right motions in terms of color, dryness and flavor--but great California rosés can be had as well, albeit at often a greater cost. Track down either of these bottles (I bought them both from the always well-stocked The Wine Crush in Long Beach), or pick up a reasonably priced bottle from where you buy your reds and whites and see if you can imagine a more perfect summer drink.