White Zin, You're Dead to Me!
Anthony Giglio, the Wine Wise Guy, weighs in on why he blushes (really) with rage when he hears people insult pink wine.
Last weekend my wife and I attended a dinner party at the home of some friends of ours. The hosts asked me to bring a couple of “fun bottles” for happy hour, and mentioned in passing that there would be five other couples there. Figuring that we were fourteen thirsty people in total, I brought three bottles of Ferrari Brut, a sparkling wine from Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region; three bottles of red (Planeta’s 2013 La Segreta Rosso, a Sicilian blend of Nero d’Avola, Merlot, Syrah and Cabernet Franc); and two magnums of Jean-Luc Colombo’s 2015 Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Cape Bleue—a rosé from Provence, in France. They all seemed fun to me, but I was particularly pleased with my super-sized bottles of salmon-pink rosé.
While I never actually plan to play bartender at most parties, I always seem to end up in that role; that’s what happens to the guy with the wine key. I’m also the guy policing the greedy over-pourers who like to drain a third of a bottle in one fell swoop. (“Hi—can I help you stop pouring?” usually works.) It’s also worth mentioning that at this particular party I didn’t know any of the other guests, so I had no idea what they’d think “fun” wine was. Tasty Sicilian red? Wine from a bottle shaped like a fish? Six hundred dollar Bordeaux? You never know.
As it happened, six guests asked for the Ferrari sparkler, two guests went straight for the Planeta rosso, and two guests pointed to the Colombo Rosé, sort of sheepishly. Then my wife walked over and enthusiastically asked for the rosé, followed by the hosts, who did the same thing. I poured a fourth glass for myself and joined the party. The non-rosé-drinking guests seemed curious that the “wine expert” was drinking pink. One of the guys said, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t get rosé.” Another guy offered, “I just don’t like that sweet stuff.” And one of the women said, “I used to love those ‘blush’ wines, but not anymore! They’re gross.” I felt myself about to start ranting and raving, but being a fellow with good manners (at least most of the time), I figured I’d save it for here.
I blame white Zinfandel, or “blush” wine, which is what white Zin was marketed as before it started trying to sound more serious. This gang was all past the forty-five-year-old line, demographically, so they definitely fell into the set whose fate it was to endure all that marketing, too. And while those semi-sweet, off-dry quaffers are still around, there are far more serious, dry pink wines on the market now: dozens of them. Maybe even hundreds. And here’s the thing: They’re delicious. Especially right now! As Ray Isle, Food & Wine’s executive wine editor, wrote recently, “As long as a rosé is pleasantly crisp, charming to look at, appropriately chilled and served to you in something other than a shoe, it will provide happiness.”
I agree. In fact, today’s rosés pack much more flavor and character than those white Zins ever did. Plus, practically every winemaking country on the planet today makes dry rosé. Some of them beautifully mimic the classic, low-impact French style; some depart entirely, offering juicier, riper—though still not sweet—flavors (California, Australia and southern Italy are often good sources for this style); some even mimic a light red, giving you the same tannic pull you get from, for instance, a delicate Gamay or Pinot Noir. And, of course, some are the O.G. juice itself, like the gorgeous Jean-Luc Colombo bottle from Provence that I brought to my friends’ party (which, by the way, retails for around $12 for a 750ml bottle).
The great thing about dry rosé is that, no matter where it’s from, it offers a perfect compromise between white and red. And please—it isn’t “the sweet stuff.” Try a bottle or two. You’ll see what I’m talking about.