As you’ve probably heard, it’s been a shitty few months for humanity.
To be honest, I could probably do without most of 2016 — we lost Bowie, Prince, Ali and Rickman; my homestate underwent the worst mass shooting and hate crime in U.S. history; politics have taken their sideshow-esque nature from metaphor to open, above-table reality.
So it felt a little bit superfluous to talk seriously about pink wine, I guess.
But then I think: No. When the world gets fucking terrible, it needs wine more than ever. And what better culprit than easy-going, poolside-perfect rosé to make us sit down, shut up, drop our damn weapons and have a glass or three?
It’s a beautiful day, and here we are. Let’s talk about pink wine.
Villa Wolf Pinot Noir Rosé
$11.99 at American Spirits here in St. Pete
So. You’ve got white wine, you’ve got red wine — but what makes rosé? A blend of the two?
Actually, kind of.
Here’s the thing: all grape juice is naturally white. Even the stuff that comes from black grape varieties, like cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir.
(Don’t believe me? Grab those red table grapes in your fridge and take a bite. What color is the flesh? That’s the color the juice is, too!)
Red wine gets its color — and tannin, which all white wines lack — from the skin of the grape. When creating a red wine, the vintner leaves the skins in contact with the juice in order to imbue all that rich, red gooodness.
But if you wanted to create a completely white “red” wine, you could — if you were super-hasty with getting the skins off the pressed grape juice.
But what if you left the skins in contact for just a little while — long enough to impart some grounding flavors to the fruit-forward, acid-packed free-run juice?
Yup, you’d get a pink wine, with just a little bit more minerality and structure than the varietal would show without any skin contact.
Villa Wolf’s Pinot Noir Rosé, 2015
I never think of myself as a rosé drinker — I’m just too attached to my big, bad reds.
But it’s, for lack of a better idiom, hot AF down here in Florida this June. I can’t believe it’s only just officially turned summer. I’ve been meaning to get my hands on a good bottle of pink wine for a while, and when I wandered into the store on my way home from work, this German rosé, in its tall, Riesling-style bottle, jumped out at me.
(Note to self: Buy a good, dry Riesling to review. If you think you don’t like Riesling, it is super-likely you’ve only tried cheap, sweet versions. Good Riesling is good.)
I’ll be honest: Part of the reason is that it was one of approximately six bottles the store had pre-chilled, and I was ready to get my rosé on.
But I also noticed its low price, varietal and origin. Pinot noir is one of my very favorites, and Pfalz makes some world-class wines — it was a better bet than the anonymous pink “blend” out of “California.”
Even though this value bottle, with its mere classification of Qualitätswein, doesn’t rank highly on Germany’s extensive (and confusing) quality rating spectrum, when I brought it to the counter, the clerk’s eyes lit up.
“This is my favorite rosé we keep in stock! You’re gonna have a good night,” he said.
And man… yeah, I did.
Although this is definitely a still wine, I got an ever-so-slightly effervescent quaff of raspberry and rose, backed up with some savory minerality like wet slate. The more I drank it (and yes, my one glass easily turned into two, turned into almost-the-whole-bottle-but-I-left-just-enough-to-not-feel-terribly-guilty-the-next-day), the more I got apple notes, if a little sour. I looked up some other folks’ notes and saw “crabapple” described, and while I’ve never had crabapple, maybe that? Small and tart and lovely. Yesplease.
It’s got a balanced acid that insinuates itself rather than overpowering the wine — it doesn’t make your mouth water, but it definitely makes you want more.
Also it went really well with that hunk of Manchego pictured above. Yes, I know it’s not a German cheese, but it’s my favorite and it’s what I had. Didn’t like it as much with the Comté, but I did wish desperately that I had a nice brie, which I think would do very well with this indeed. This wine would also be appropriate for light seafood or chicken dishes — or, of course, all by its lonesome. Preferably in a sunny spot.
Oh, and did I mention that as I was flipping through the summer issue of Wine Enthusiast, the 2014 vintage of the same bottle showed up amongst the top-rated value wines with a score of 88?
What can I say? Sometimes, I really do know how to pick ’em.