What About Wine?

Welcome to the seventh annual Advocate rosé column, where our motto is: If it’s summer and you have $10, you can buy a pretty good rosé — and sometimes even get change back.

The quality of rosé available in stores continues to improve. When I started the annual rosé, column, there wasn’t much to choose from. Since then, there are not only more wines, but they are better than ever. I don’t know that I have actually tasted a poorly made rosé in the past couple of years. Some of them have been too expensive, but that’s another story.

The most important thing to know about rosé is that it isn’t white zinfandel (or white merlot or whatever); rosés are pink wines made with red grapes, and they aren’t sweet. Why are they pink? Because the red grape skins are left in the fermenting grape juice just long enough to color the wine. (All red wine gets its color from the grape skins. The skins are left on cabernet sauvignon and merlot for much longer, so the wine is much more red.) This is also why rosés don’t have tannins (the flavor that makes your mouth pucker), since the skins give red wine its tannic quality.

Rosés’ fruit flavors are mostly red berries (think strawberry). They should be served chilled, and they pair pretty much with any food, including beef and barbecue. Rosé was made for Sunday afternoon, sitting on the back porch, rosé in hand, and burgers on the grill.

A note on vintages: Look for 2008, and be wary if anyone sells anything much earlier than 2007. Rosés are not made to age, and should be fresh and flavorful. The color in older vintages starts to fade, like paper that yellows.

Rosé styles vary by country. Spanish wines are going to be bone-dry with less fruit flavor. French and South American rosés are a little more fruity, while U.S. rosés are the most fruity of all. Some U.S. wines are so full of strawberry flavor that they might even seem sweet.

Any of the following (and this is far from a complete list) are well worth trying:

• From France: Cave de Saumur ($10), Bieler Sabine ($12), and Chateau Famaey ($10). The latter is almost like a strawberry popsicle.

• From Spain: I don’t know that you can go wrong with any Spanish rosé that is around $10. Just don’t expect a lot of fruit.

• From the United States: McPherson Cellars ($12), Toad Hollow ($11), and Charles & Charles ($12).

Ask the Wine Guy

Q. What’s a wine competition?
A. Wine competitions are like beauty pageants. Judges taste wines by category, and then vote on the best ones. A gold medal at a prestigious wine competition, like the annual Dallas Morning News event, can increase sales.

WITH YOUR WINE: Tomatillo sauce

Stunningly easy, and perfect to dip with chips, to use in enchiladas, or to serve as a sauce with chicken breasts. I braise chicken parts in the sauce, and then serve it with rice or couscous. (If you do that, you can omit the stock from the recipe.) And whatever you use it for, serve with your favorite rosé.

Serves six, takes about 40 minutes

1 pound tomatillos, paper skin removed and roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 bunch cilantro
1 jalapeño, roughly chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1/2 to 1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Put everything but the stock, salt and pepper into a food processor, and mix until fine.
2. Add the tomatillo mixture and the remaining ingredients in a saucepan. If it seems too thick, add more stock. Bring all to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cover for 20 to 30 minutes.
 



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