>Is it sweet?
She wrinkles her face. Her whole face. Like she’s really asking if it came out of a dog’s asshole. Is it sweeeet? The last word drawn out like a flat note on a horn, or a fart.
The wine being unduly subject to this girl’s ignorance, is Bellefon Salmon, a lovely pink Champagne. From, you know, Champagne. In France. Most people still refer to anything bubbling in their glass as Champagne, even if it didn’t come from anywhere near Champagne. Quit it.
Since the Treaty of Madrid in 1891, wines could only be legally labeled “Champagne” if they came from there, and this was globally reaffirmed after WWI in the Treaty of Versailles. But because the U.S. Senate never ratified the Treaty (Wilson signed it, though), it claims it doesn’t have to abide by these laws. To prevent a global tussle, the U.S. allowed that only certain California producers making sparkling wine before 2006 could label their wines “California Champagne.”
America, fuck yeah.
Although I want to shoot her into outer space, I smile and say, No, Darlin, it’s not sweet in the slightest.
No, Darlin, that Shiraz that I overheard you rhapsodizing about earlier, the one with the big Wine Spectator “94” printed on the tag, is sweeter than this rosé.
She frowns and lets me pour her a taste. She sips it like it’s hemlock and I know what she’s going to say and I brace myself but it shreds me up anyway, makes all the blood run to my forearms, my hands, ready to throttle her to death.
Wow! That’s not sweet at all!
What she is thinking of is that Freshman Rape In A Bottle, Arbor Mist. Boone’s Farm’s Strawberry Hill. That’s stuff’s not wine, or I’m a ferret. It’s carbonated sugar – Fanta with 7.5% alcohol. The only thing it has in common with Champagne’s beautiful, strawberry and pebble-kissed dry, dry Bellefon Salmon is the color. And even that isn’t similar enough to warrant suspicion. Rosés vary wildly in hue, from deep neon red to palest peach. The color comes from the brief contact the juice has with its red grape skins, and the longer the contact, the more tannins you can usually expect. A fleshy, savory fresh blood-colored ciliegiolo from Liguria can feel bigger in the mouth than a wispy, refreshing Provençal salmon number, but both find their flavors in the red berry spectrum: strawberries, raspberries, and cherries. In better rosés, the mineral aspects give it structure – a sparkling brininess at the finish maybe, a chalky, pebbly weight as you drink. This is what keeps it from being just silly, stupid fruit drink.
So don’t be afraid of rosé. No one – and let me repeat this with the greatest emphasis – no one in the wine or food industry will ever refer to Arbor Mist as a rosé. But if they have White Zinfandel on the list, stand up and walk out right away. They intentionally put cockroaches in their food. They have rabies and sleep under a bridge and wipe their asses with their hands. They alternate which one, so you can’t avoid it when you shake.