Hey Hey Hey, Mateus Rosé!
I just love pink wine, and recently I was touting one or another of my favorites to a friend, who replied, a bit sniffily, that he found pink wine completely disgusting and was horrified – though not surprised – that I’d stoop to swilling such, well, swill. Long story short, it turns out he mistakenly assumed I was flogging White Zinfandel, a Ripple-like potable that is much favored by the older set, by which I mean people far more advanced in years than myself who, in addition to actually drinking the stuff, also use it to lube their wheelchairs, soak their dentures and fill their catheter bags. I am told it’s a big favorite on the early bird special menu in certain, warmer climes.
I must say, I am amazed by the lingering prejudice against pink wines, even today. Perhaps it’s because Saddam Hussein favored it (legend has it he “cellared” oceans of Mateus in his palaces and was clutching a bottle when found in his hidey hole). Or maybe it’s due to Mateus Rosé’s image in the swinging 70s when it was all the rage for greasing the skids, as it were, at key parties, wife swapping conventions, or any event that involved bralessness, sideburns and intravenous drugs. ‘Member?
So let’s just clear this up once and for all. White Zin, its evil twin White Merlot (a monstrous new entrant in the sweet-pink-wines-that-will-make-you-puke-up-piece-of-your-liver appellation), and anything called “blush” are essentially cavity-causing wine coolers that have more in common with Orange Crush than the fruit of the vine. Moreover, they have absolutely nothing to do with the proud tradition of vin rosé (which can range from sphincter-puckering dryness to sweet-ish, but in a good way). Got it? Good.
So by now you’re wondering which rosés I like. Honestly I don’t have a favorite, and if I did, I probably wouldn’t remember the name. Every year brings a new contender. Rule of thumb: anything from the Rhone Valley, Provence or the Languedoc of France should be OK. I also like Spanish pinks generally, and rosés made from grenache grapes (garnacha en español) especially. The left coast has gotten in on the fun in recent years, too, and you can get some fabulous pinks from Amador County in sunny California. If you don’t have a regular wine shop, get one. Ask the staff for a recommendation and start sampling. And don’t be taken in by the argument that rosé is only for summer – I sip it year round, and proudly so. Of course I also wear white after Labor Day and never match my bag to my shoes, but that’s a whole other can of faux pas.
If you’re more of a rugged individualist and can’t bring yourself to ask for help, just go to the pink area of a suitable looking wine shop or supermarket and, after eliminating anything that says White Zinfandel, White Merlot or blush, start trying everything in sight. Wine tasting is one of life’s great pleasures, and given the ready supply of bargain price rosés, it’s almost entirely guilt free, too!
Zinfandel, btw, is a big, delicious, spicy red wine, along the lines of a good Malbec or Shiraz, that has absolutely no truck with its Kool-Aidy, pink, bastard offspring. So if your guests walk through the door and hand you a lovely bottle of purply Zin, do NOT turn your nose up. And for the love of God, don’t chill it.