Have you got a nice bottle of bubbly ready to be chilled for Valentine’s Day? To me, it’s every bit as important as the flowers or chocolates – or dinner out – whatever your traditions are.
And, somehow it seems to me that the bubbly should be pink. It adds that extra special, romantic touch.
Did you know that it’s not just the bubbles that make rosé Champagne different from other rosé wines? The vast majority of non-fizzy rosé or blush wines in the world are made by crushing a dark-skinned variety, such as Zinfandel, and leaving the juice in contact with the skins for a short while – until the winemaker likes the color (the juice is clear regardless of the skin color). Continue reading
Question from Sarah: We were at a restaurant and I ordered a glass of Zinfandel. When the wine came it was dark red instead of pink. I decided to go ahead and try it and I didn’t like it at all. It was really bitter and not nice and sweet the way I like it. Luckily my boyfriend liked it okay. Is there more than one kind of Zinfandel?
Reply: Hi, Sarah. Thanks for writing! I hope they suggested another wine you might enjoy. We don’t want to lose you as a wine lover!
I guess you could say there’s more than one kind of Zinfandel. Zinfandel is the name of a grape with a dark, nearly black, skin and clear juice – almost every dark-skinned grape has colorless juice. This fact gives the grape great versatility. Depending upon how long the juice and grape skins are in contact, the winemaker can produce white, pink or red wine.
Making White Zinfandel
White Zinfandel, the wine you thought you had ordered, is, strangely enough, pink! Here’s how it works: The winemaker picks the whole cluster of Zinfandel and then runs it through a machine that removes the stems and breaks the grape skins open. Then he transfers this soupy mixture of juice and skins into a fermentation tank and waits awhile.
At some point he’ll open a valve to see the color of the juice. When he sees something he likes, he drains all of the juice out of the tank and transfers it to another tank. This is very, very sweet juice – absolutely delicious! Continue reading
Did you know that it’s not just the bubbles that make rosé Champagne different from other rosé wines? The vast majority of pink wines in the world are made by getting just a blush of color out of a dark-skinned grape, such as Zinfandel or Grenache (the juice is clear regardless of the skin color), and thereafter making it pretty much the same way as fruity white wine is made. Cold fermentation, pass on barrel aging.
However – the tradition for bubbly wine is to mix a little red wine – classically, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier (a clone of Pinot Noir) – with white wine that’s traditionally made of Chardonnay. When I say “classically” or “traditionally”, I’m referring to the practices in the Champagne region since that’s the benchmark. Once this cuvée, or blend, is made they set about making it fizz!
Seems like a great time to talk about this because Rosé Champagne isn’t just a good match for Valentine’s Day in terms of color. It has to be the most romantic wine around – don’t you agree?? Oh, heck – the most romantic beverage around!
We’re all counting our pennies these days and I want you to know that purchasing the most romantic beverage around doesn’t have to break the bank. You can buy a perfectly lovely pink Cava (Spanish bubbly) for under $12.00! Or you can go all out and serve a Cristal vintage rosé priced at nearly $500.00, which is completely outrageous unless someone else is buying 😉 And, of course, there are scads of wines in between.
So – you’ve got plenty of time to shop before V-day! Get to work!
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