Wine Enthusiast, January 7, 2019
Rosés and Fizzy Reds Are The New Light Winter Wines
Tired of heavy winter reds? Here are some of our editor's go-to rosés and sparkling reds that are perfect accents to snow white.
BY VIRGINIE BOONE AND MATT KETTMANN
By the time February rolls around, chances are you’re tired of being cold and bundled up inside, drinking big-bodied, well-oaked red wines, and you’re looking to break out of the rut. Fortunately, sparkling reds are on the rise from producers in Italy, California and points in between. The Golden State, meanwhile, has also hit a pink-hued stride, with a plethora of bodacious and textural rosés that stand up to the cold.
Reds that Sparkle
Frothy, fizzy, racy and—red? With high-quality versions produced in more places, sparkling red wines are in demand. Experts guide us on what to drink and why.
Why are they so hot right now?
“People freak out—they’re just really fascinated with something that’s not typical,” says Drew Cuddy, co-founder/owner of Satellite SB wine bar in Santa Barbara, California. His customers love the sparkling Syrah by Solminer Wine Co. in nearby Los Olivos, and the Château de Minière Bulles de Minière rouge, a sparkling Cab Franc from the Loire Valley that he calls “Frambrusco.”
Who’s making them?
The style goes back more than a millennium in the form of frizzante Lambruscofrom Italy, and Australia’s sparkling Shiraz has been around since the late 1800s. The latter inspired Santa Barbara winemaker David Potter to produce “The Fizz” under his Municipal Winemakers label. Petaluma bubble master Michael Cruse crafts a Valdiguié version for Cruse Wine Co. There are also scant amounts of sparkling Gamay from Beaujolais, Sangiovese from Italy and others from Spain.
Where to buy?
Hipster wine bars are almost guaranteed to stock them, but they’re just tiny players in this game. The big boy is Stella Rosa, America’s top imported Italian brand and the 15th best-selling wine in the country.
“The product itself is not pretentious. It’s not about having to know appellations and vintages, which can make wine intimidating,” says Anthony Riboli, whose Los Angeles-based family started the brand with Italian partners and brought it to the U.S. in 2005. “It’s also a taste profile that has resonated with new wine drinkers, including a lot of cultures that have not traditionally been associated with wine drinking.”
What to pair?
“You don’t want to have it with a delicate, aromatic, light dish,” says Matt Kaner, a longtime sommelier and the co-owner of Los Angeles’s Bar Covell, Augustine Wine Bar and Good Measure. “It overpowers almost everything. It needs something fatty with a lot of flavor, something bold. Or just as an apéritif. It’s fucking delicious on its own.” —Matt Kettmann
We’ve stubbornly stuck to spring and summer as the main seasons for rosé. No more. Heady, fragrant pink wines are transporting this time of year. Well-made rosé from California has enviable body and texture in a crisp, complementary framework. It’s made, after all, from the same red grapes we enjoy in their more voluptuous forms. Served near room temperature, the wine will be fresh and fruity with just enough weight. —Virginie Boone
Six California Bottles to Get You Through Winter
Eric Kent 2017 Rosé (Sonoma Coast); $22, 92 points. This is made from 77% Pinot Noir, 17% Syrah and 6% Grenache. The trio works well together, combining to offer a distinct minerality of crushed rock around complex, curious flavors of cured meat, citrus and strawberry. The wine is dark as Dolcetto in color. —V.B.
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