As a wine educator and sommelier I’m frequently asked to divulge my favorite wines. It’s difficult for me to answer, as I genuinely find merit in most wines I am fortunate enough to taste. It also doesn’t help that my palate is somewhat mercurial (what is my favorite wine TODAY?). Wine preferences are deeply personal and based on many factors. But if I had to describe the archetypal wine—one that is multi-faceted, versatile, and expresses a sense of place—a sparkling rosé would land a spot on a marble pedestal. With a multitude of styles, there are pink bubbles are for every palate and every occasion. Let’s explore why this wine should be on everyone’s favorite list.
Sparkling Rosé is Deliciously Complex
Some of the biggest misconceptions regarding sparkling rosé are that it’s all sweet and one-dimensional. Good wine by no means has to be pontificating, but it should display some level of complexity and balanced aromas and flavors. Sparkling rosé can range from extremely dry to slightly sweet, and light and bright to rich and creamy. Depending on grape varietals and vinification techniques, they can be more complex, richer and have more depth of flavors than their blanc counterparts and many other still wines.
For a delicious example of a fruity, yet complex, and very drinkable sparkling rosé , discover Peramo Anniversario from northeastern Italy. A spumante made from the native varietal Raboso Piave—a unique grape used in full-bodied, still red wines typical of the Veneto appellation—this wine is jasper in color with fine bubbles, and flavors of red fruit, rose petals, and spice. Made in the charmat, or “tank,” method, this wine is rich on the palate with well-balanced acidity and an elegant finish. This sparkling stunner will convince any skeptic that sparkling rosé is a wonderfully serious wine. (About $19; Rodman's, Bradley Food & Beverage, Snider's, Via Umbria, Cleveland Park, and Urban Winery).
Sparkling Rosé is Versatile
For the most serious pink bubbles we must turn to rosé Champagne as this is the standard bearer for all sparkling wine, regardless of color. While most Champagne producers focus on blanc brut made from Chardonnay grapes, many houses offer smaller amounts of rosé made on the side. As the “traditional method” dictates, the second fermentation (carbonation) occurs in individual bottles and many of these wines are blends with still red Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier added to the sparkling white. While the finished product is ultimately dependent upon the grape blend, amount of dosage (sugar) added, where the grapes are sourced, and the style of the house, these rosés are among the most versatile and pairable of all wines.
Try the salmon-hued Premier Cru Rosé from the small, family-run maison Louis Massing. With its red fruit and floral aromas, this Champagne is a seductive accompaniment to fish and game entrees. A blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay from premier cru vineyards, its silky texture renders it a lovely stand-alone aperitif as well. (About $55; Schneider's of Capitol Hill). From the first established Champagne house in the world, explore Ruinart Brut Rosé. Light pink in color, it has an vivid range of hibiscus and raspberry aromas with white peach and raspberry flavors. Made from 55% Pinot Noir and 45% Chardonnay, this wine can stand up to heartier meats and spicier dishes due to its vigorous and lengthy finish (About $84; Magruder's).
Sparkling Rosé is Expressive
A sense of place, or “terroir,” is another important element in a wine worthy of recommendation. An expression of where grapes are grown and how the winemaker’s style relates to an appellation only enhances our enjoyment of wine. Explore Raventos i Blanc de Nit Rosé (About $58, Jaleo) for an extreme example of terroir-driven wine-making philosophy. As the founders of the original formula for Cava—Spain’s traditional method sparkling wine—the Raventos family set forth to create a separate appellation to elicit the unique characteristics of the Anoia River Basin region. Rebelling against what they believed was mass production of Cava throughout the Penedes region, their sparkling wines are made from ancient, limestone estate vineyards from the Conca del Anoia. Their sparkling rosé is a revelation: pale pink, crisp, bone-dry, and mineral driven. The persistent ribbons of bubbles and delicate red fruit aromas render this wine perfect for any appetizer or entrée.
Discover the true terroir of Provence in Rivarosé (About $18; Rodman's), a sparkling rosé from the oldest producer of sparkling wine in the south of France. The first and only sparkling rosé from the Méditerranée appellation, this wine expresses the climate, soils, and style of this region more known for its still wines. A Syrah-dominant blend, red fruit aromas are vibrant, while on the palate the wine is bright with citrus and spice. Pair with cured meats or appetizers to experience the Southern Rhone’s true sense of place.
While Erlinda loves wine like she loves her children, sparkling rosé may be the closest thing to her “favorite.” What’s your favorite wine? Visit my website at www.thevinicola.com or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about wine or to plan your next private tasting event.