My girlfriend asked me the other day why I always pick red wines for these reviews. I wish I could say it’s because red wine has more of a following, or that it’s more complex, and that’s the reason. (Both those things are true, but never mind that.) The truth is, it’s what I like to drink, so I like to buy it for my work. She prefers white wine, so she’d rather see me work on those every now and again.
So in the interest of preserving domestic tranquility, here’s a review of one of the bottles she’s been drinking lately — an Italian rosé.
To understand rosé, you first have to understand that both white and red wine come from dark-skinned grapes. (Look at all these images of dark-skinned pinot grigio grapes.) Red wine becomes red wine because it is left to age with the spent skins, seeds, and stems of the grapes; white wine is poured from the skins, leaving only the juice from the grape. Rosé is something in the middle; it’s left on the skins long enough to impart some flavor and color, but not long enough to become a full-bodied red wine.
Rosé has a bad reputation in America because many of the mass-produced and advertised rosés available here (mainly white zinfandel) tend to be overly sweet and simplistic. I’m hoping this Italian rosé proves to be different.
How does it look? This rosé is a fiery orange color. It’s completely translucent, swirls very easily, and leaves almost no legs — which has me expecting something light-bodied, yet dry.
How does it smell? The Valdinera has some of the musty aromas you’d expect from a complex pinot grigio (this particular rosé is made from 100 percent Nebbiolo grapes.) Some sweet citrus and sour red berry aromas are also present, buried underneath that earthy base scent.
But how does it taste? In the case of this rosé, we have the subtle fruit flavors and light body of a white wine balanced by a hint of the tannins we’d expect in a red. The fruits (raspberry and strawberry, mainly) are definitely there, but they’re not cloying, and they’re balanced by the same musty tannins we found on the nose. The wine isn’t oaked, but it almost has the same bold finish that an oaked wine would have, perhaps because of this wine’s relatively young age. (Cellaring this for a year or two would mellow it out, leaving a wine that was just as crisp but a bit less bracing; still, very refreshing.)
What should I eat with it? This would pair well with a strongly flavored seafood dish, like shrimp scampi, or maybe with a Caesar salad. A cold wine like this would also (per the vintner’s recommendation) be a nice aperitif, especially if you’re serving dinner after a long day of something hot and/or strenuous (working in the garden, sitting in the sun at a baseball game, playing horseshoes at a barbecue — whatever.) It’d help transition from working (or at least exerting) to relaxing and eating.