Re-thinking the Pink for Great Grape Day

My experiences with sparkling wines have been limited, admittedly. There was the one from my youth of a bottle of pink bubbly that tasted like fizzy koolaid that made my eyes water and my teeth hurt.

It did nothing to quench my thirst, instead it gave me a wary and unnecessary adversion to ever wanting to drink it again.

Then, as an adult there was the night of sparkling wine and true champagne that I was able to taste as part of my wine professionals certification, and here it was that my eyes were opened permanently to the true tastes of a good sparkler. Interestingly enough, my two favorites that night were both Rosé; one was Haton Rosé Champagne and the other was Argyle’s Brut Rosé sparkling wine from Oregon. Both of them simply took my breath away; rich with flavor and character and simply gorgeous to look at; I was in awe and finally cleansed of the bitter memory of my first pink. It could be good!! I could like it!

Long past the ill fated reputation of pink champagne being cheap and fruity, tastes for sparkling wines, and especially Rose sparklers has taken off like a unmanned champagne cork, and its amazing how quickly the focus has shifted. It was but 10 short years ago that the only pink beverage out there was White Zinfandel, and it was hardly taken in any seriousness by elite consumers. Nowadays, almost all prestige Champagne houses make a rosé, and many boast two to three varieties.

Italy’s Prosecco is now available in rosé form; Spain has rosy bubbly cavas and France’s Loire Valley is turning out very reputable, value priced rosé sparkling wines as well. California and Spain sometimes offer a Blanc de Noirs–a pink-colored bubbly made primarily from black grapes, which is a variation on the sparkling rosé theme.

The two grape varieties used to produce most rose Champagnes are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Some producers also use Pinot Meunier, a black-grape relative of Pinot Noir. Producers who prefer a lighter, more elegant style use more Chardonnay in their cuvees, while those looking to make a more full-bodied, fruitier rosé use mainly black grapes and sometimes make 100 percent Pinot Noir rosés. Rose Champagnes are made in the brut style: They might be fruitier than other types of Champagne, but they’re typically quite dry to fairly dry.

Rosés come in a wide spectrum of colors–ranging from pale onion skin, topaz, copper or salmon to deep pink, bordering on light red. The deeper-colored rosé Champagnes tend to be fruitier than the lighter-colored rose Like all Champagnes, rosés age well, some up to 15 years or more if stored in a cool place, but most rosés are at their best when consumed within 10 years.

Rosé Champagnes are slightly more expensive than their white counterparts because of the additional expense involved in producing them. Rose Champagnes obtain their color by one of two methods. The most commonly employed manner is by simply adding a small amount of Pinot Noir wine to the Champagne cuvee. A few Champagne houses use the more difficult skin-contact method, in which the skins of dark grapes soak in the must until the desired color is achieved.

So what can be attributed to the rise of the rosé? Overall, I think that wine lovers are starting to understand that Rose wines have a flavor and character all their own; not to mention the fact that rosé has come a long, long way from the ubiquitous White Zin that once blanketed liquor store shelves from coast to coast. There is really nothing lovelier than a soft, pink, bubbly glass in one’s hand either; the combination lending a sense of elegance to any festivity, reflecting the colors of good salmon, or a perfect sunset. Rosé sparkling wines have more body, generally than a standard white sparkler, and can aptly hold their own at any dinner table where a red wine may have once been king.

Tasting Notes:
Jean Noel- Haton Rosé Brut NV Champagne- Bright, salmon-pink with a fine, delicate mousse. Rich, fresh cherry and gentle spice aromas lead to a pure, mouthful of reshly picked forest fruits. Very uplifting, a perfect apéritif with canapés.

Argyle 2003 Brut Rosé Sparkling Wine- Very bubbly and lively, nose of sweet summer cherries, strawberry and cherry flavors with some citrusy acidity; light and airy; beautiful light pinkish red


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Reader Comments

Two recommendations I must hunt down, never heard of them before so many thanks for sharing