I’m assuming that you’re going to bring some wine for your Ma on Mothers Day. Right? I’ll also assume that you’re going to be a bad kiddo and bring her White Zin. Right? I thought so…
Photo Credit: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=416895
That shit stops here. I’m making sure of it.
I’m co-authoring this post with my good friend and sommelier Clay Williams. I trust his recommendations, and you should too.
It’s a new year and it’s Spring. It’s a time of growth, renewal, abundance, a clean slate, expansion, reflection, envisioning endless possibilities, letting go of the old and embracing the new.
It’s time. I’m here to help. It’s time for a Spring cleaning of your wine palette.
There’s a dirty little secret that some winemakers have been keeping from you – White Zin is a lie.
Winemakers all over the world have been stealing your money, your well-meaning desire to understand and fall in love with wine. Your attempt to walk away from shitty beer, Cosmopolitans, pre-2010 box wines (which have stepped their games up considerably) cheap margaritas and Bartles & James has been for naught. Because you got sold on something that was supposed to be a gateway drug to the REAL shit. It was a mistake that turned into a marketing trick that took your wine-soaked headache all the way to the bank; lining their devious, evil pockets with your hard-earned booze budget.
You think the banking industry fucked you? The wine industry never even kissed you. They’re cheating on you. They’re laughing at you. They despise you. They call you ‘trailer trash’. I’ve heard ‘em – I’m there for those conversations. They haven’t any need to educate you on anything remotely close to actual wine – They have you and you remain a willing, naïve participant.
That ends today.
Let’s explore White Zin.
First off, White Zin is garbage. It’s a joke on you behind a genius marketing plan. It’s basically for folks that don’t know about or don’t think they like wine, all so you can hold a glass of something that looks like wine in a wine glass at a party that requires you to look like you have wine in front of people drinking actual wine.
Got it? It’s a sham. And you’re being made fun of every time you participate in this shit.
So, we should start at the beginning – Before ‘White’ Zin, there was Zinfandel; a red varietal – or grape. Then in 1972 a California wine company called Sutter Home tried growing Zinfandel and fucked it up.
I’ll let Bob Trinchero (the alchemist) explain…
“It didn’t ferment properly. Initially labeled as an Oeil de Perdrix, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms demanded something in English on the label, and the name, “A White Zinfandel Wine” was added. By 1975 the name Oeil de Perdrix was removed. A fortunate accident occurred during the making of the 1975 vintage, as some 1,000 gallons of bleed-off juice (Free Run) from red Zinfandel refused to ferment to dryness, retaining a substantial amount of sugar, and Trinchero put the wine aside for the time. He said, “Two weeks later, I tasted that wine and it was sweet, had a pink color, and I thought, ‘Darn, that’s pretty good. We bottled it, and the rest is history.”
You see, the Zinfandel grape has traditionally been grown to make wines that are robust, jammy, giant, spicy, and deeply red in color. Zinfandel is naturally sweet and consistently higher in alcohol – because of it’s natural sugar content (sugar converts to alcohol). So, an easy way to make money on it is to pick it early in the season and not waste money (water, labor, etc…) and just letting it do it’s growing thing. So, they pick it early and let it sit on its lees (skins – because that’s where the wine gets its color. Side note – ALL juice from any grape is clear – wine gets its color from the skins – Red Grapes = Red Wine; Green Grapes = White Wine). It’s a lot, I know.
We have alternatives. You’re welcome.
I’ll let Clay take it from here…
Hi everybody, I’m Clay. I’ve been in the booze business for my entire adult life, with a break here and there, and wine is my thing. So, Rose. First off, ignore part of what you read above. Drink what you want, I don’t give a damn. If it’s sweet, fine. But say you do want to enter the grown-up world of dry, traditional rose? It’s can be little overwhelming, lemme help.
Red wine grapes are white inside, just like the red or black table grapes you eat (Yes, there are red-fleshed grapes, they’re called teinturiers, but shut up, these are the basics. Sheesh!) Red wine is made by soaking the juice on the skins for a while, pulling out almost all the flavors you associate with red wine. Whites spend a brief time ‘on the skins’. Rose spends more time on the skins than white, but less than red, allowing some flavor compounds and color, but not too much. I know, great info but now what?
Let’s get started on getting started with Rosé.
In 2018, with Rose reaching popularity never before seen, almost every wine producing area in the world makes Rose, but where to begin? First off, by price point and style. Not all pink is true, dry Rose! The $8-$10 California Roses, especially from brands like Apothic or Dark Horse are probably going to suck and not true Roses. They’re overly sweet and kinda gross. In that price point however are tons of imported wines that are on time. Look for producers from Spain and France, especially from the Provence area of southern France. In that price range. Domestic producers can make some awesome Rose, but not generally at that price point. Here are a couple to watch out for and what you should expect to pay:
–2017 Le Charmel-Provence-$9-$11
Actually, a California producer that makes this. Nice and lively, bone dry with good fruit, nice minerality on a clean finish. A blend of traditional Provençal grapes.
-2017 Las Rocas-$7-$10
Drink everything this producer makes, one of the best bargains on the planet. The Rose is great for the money. A bit more power than most Roses in this class. Spanish.
Some Roses up a step-
–Castle Rock Rose of Pinot Noir-$12-$15
Great value. A good intro because of its fruitiness. Dry, but not as dry as some.
-2017 Whispering Angel-$17-$25 Provence. Maybe the most popular Rose on the planet right now, along with Brangelina’s (that still a thing? I don’t keep up) Miraval. The entry level of Chateau Declans. Beautiful bottle of wine, on the lighter side. Your go-to bring-to-dinner wine all summer.
One big boy:
-2015-2017 Meyer-Nakel Spatburgunder (German for Pinot Noir)-$28-$35
My favorite. Germany makes amazing and underappreciated Pinot Noir and this rose is no exception. Rich, but clean and crisp with tons of bright fruit and even a touch of tannin (the stuff in red wine that makes your mouth dry and the insides of your cheeks pucker).
One last thing though. DRINK ROSE WITH FOOD, TOO! Sorry I had to yell, but everyone pictures Roses as back porch, refreshing summer wines but Roses are some of the most versatile, food friendly wines out there. Salmon, yes of course(boooring!), but try with burgers, bbq, Asian food or even popcorn.
Rose. Shut up and drink it.
We love you.