Sparkling wine is perfect for any romantic occasion. (Actually, it’s appropriate for any occasion — like, it’s Tuesday night! — but I digress.) For the day that’s all about romance, Valentine’s Day, I like a bubbly with a hue that evokes roses and candy hearts: rosé sparkling wine.
Perhaps you have a negative memory of drinking something at a wedding that was labeled “pink champagne” — not Champagne (which is from a defined part of France) at all, but a California wine that was cheap, fizzy and maybe a little sweet. Don’t let that experience put you off.
High-quality rosé sparkling wines — produced by the traditional méthode champenois — generally are fairly dry. In addition to a rosy color, they often have more body and red fruit flavors than non-rosé bubblies. That makes rosé sparkling wine a good choice to drink with a meal. The additional weight stands up to a greater variety of dishes.
The color of rosé bubbly can range from very pale to salmon-colored to pink. That color usually is achieved by blending a little still wine made from red grapes (often pinot noir or pinot meunier) into the sparkling wine. But it can also result from the process that’s often used to make rosé table wines. Juice is bled off from red grapes after only limited contact with the skins, which is where the color is. That lightly colored juice is then used to make the wine.
If rosé sparkling wines have a drawback, it’s price. That’s particularly true with Champagne, where rosé wines can be considerably more expensive. With many California sparkling wines, the price difference is modest to non-existent.
The wines that follow should be relatively easy to find at well-stocked supermarkets, chain liquor stores like BevMo and, in some cases, at Costco.
For an excellent bargain, there’s the non-vintage Korbel Brut Rosé ($14) in a limited-edition bottle that looks like pink lace. The wine is racy and spicy, with ample berry fruit and a trace of sweetness. The non-vintage Mumm Napa Brut Rosé ($24) is a step up in price but is often discounted. It’s pale and delicate, with red fruit, mineral and a hint of vanilla.
One of my favorite California bubbly producers is Roederer Estate in the Anderson Valley. The winery’s non-vintage Brut Rosé ($29) is creamy and fresh, with strawberry fruit and a fine texture. Roederer’s sister winery, Scharffenberger, produces the non-vintage Brut Rosé Excellence ($23), which displays delicate red fruit and nice creaminess.
Pick of the Week
Kukkula 2013 Aatto ($40) Aatto is a blend of counoise, mourvedre and grenache from Kukkula’s vineyard in the Adelaida District. The wine is bright and spicy, with roasted berry and pencil lead notes, supported by approachable tannins.