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Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009

Overcoming Pink Anxiety

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When the Sweet Partner in Crime read one of my columns, she came across a throwaway line where I disparaged white zinfandel. “Afraid of the pink, are we?” she said.

I’m not afraid of the pink – pink wine, that is – I’m just judgmental. I freely admit that I’d see people around me in a restaurant ordering pink wine and feel a little rush of pride that I had better sense. I don’t like white zin for the same reason that I don’t like fruit wines – I look for a giant smiling pitcher to crash through the wall hollering, “Oh yeahhhhhh!” after the first sip. I had a real distaste for anything resembling white zin until I heard a single sentence that changed my attitude:

“Remember…Pink is not a flavor.”

My mind and palate were opened to the world of ros.

Ros should never be confused with white zin. Ross are made using the same process as red wines – except the grape skins are removed from the fermentation container after a couple of days. The skins of grapes give wine its color, so the wine ends up a light pink. The skins also give red wine richness – so ross tend to be lighter in body and slightly sweet.

Ross are great summer wines. They’ve got a little more “oomph” than many whites, so you can use them with any number of foods, but they’re still very refreshing when you’re in the midst of a season when you feel a twinge in your head and wallet any time you hear your a/c compressor kick on.

Les Jamelles 2005Cinsault -- Strawberry fields forever! Cinsault is best known as a French blending grape. France actually plants more cinsault than cabernet sauvignon. As for this wine, light and fruity to the nose, Les Jamelles is much more on the "white" end of the ros spectrum. The taste is very much like a sauvignon blanc -- a little citrusy and a lot of strawberry. It finishes with a little crisp bite on the back of your tongue -- like you've finished a really good grapefruit. Perfect for sitting by the pool, or with a light fish or chicken dish. $7-8.

Muga 2006 Rioja Ros -- Riojas are classic Spanish reds made from mostly the tempranillo and garnacha grapes. Riojas tend to be big, fruity wines, and a ros made from those grapes follows that lead. This winery's name splits neatly into two syllables that tell you all you need to know about this wine's flavor: Mu-Ga -- Melon/Grapefruit.Once the wine warms up a bit (you do not want to drink this ice cold) -- the initial scent is ripe melon. This stays with you through your first sip, but the wine widens to a grapefruity taste, and then stays just on the sweet side of strong citrus through the taste. If you've got any kind of pork or jerk chicken, go with this one. $11-13.

Folie a Deux 2006Mnage a Trois Ros -- The sweetest of our selections. I'd tried some of the other Folie a Deux blends (they're from Napa, not France) -- and I'd enjoyed their red and white. This ros had a marked berry nose, but tastes like strawberries and peaches (minus some sweetness) when quaffed. The finish is much less sharp than the other two, making this the quintessential pool wine. If you're laying out during the rest of the summer, chill this down and bring it out -- let the sun warm both you and the wine a bit before you start drinking. You could pair this with some grilled shrimp if you wanted. $9-11.

Before we depart the pink -- I found a use for white zinfandel. While I have no doubt that it would work wonderfully in a hummingbird feeder, an ambitious picnic-goer can make a killer sangria with it. Mix a bottle of white zin with a cup of peach schnapps, a shot of triple sec, a couple of tablespoons of sugar, a couple of cinnamon sticks, and some sliced fruit. Chill that well in the fridge, and just before you serve it -- throw in a 10 oz. bottle of club soda. Enjoy!

Until next time -- Sant.

(Got a comment? Suggestion? Question? Opinion? Send it to Mike at thenakedvine@yahoo.com)

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