Rosé in a can? Meet the underdogs of the pale pink class

By Molly Steinbach
Posted 7/3/19

I was standing in the wine shop this afternoon, completely at a loss as to what to write this month's article about. Of course, I'll never run out of ideas--there are as many topics as there are …

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Rosé in a can? Meet the underdogs of the pale pink class

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I was standing in the wine shop this afternoon, completely at a loss as to what to write this month's article about. Of course, I'll never run out of ideas--there are as many topics as there are wines--but sometimes when it comes down to making a decision, I find myself in a quandary. So I asked the sales associate, "What should I write about?"

"Dry rosé!" he replied, enthusiastically. Oh, but I've done that before, I thought. I've written about Provençalrosés, and rosés for Thanksgiving ... I'm bored with rosés (that's not true - I'll never be bored with rosés). But then I thought, wait … what about weird rosés. Nothing like a weird wine to get my creative juices flowing.

So this month, I'm writing about the underdogs, the off-the-beaten-track rosés, the alternatives to the pale pink summer quaffs. And we're starting with … rosé in a can!

Yup. And to make it even better, it's rosé bubbles in a can. My night is complete. To be honest, if I didn't know it was a rosé, I wouldn't be able to tell by flavor. There really isn't much that says "pink" to me about NV House Wine Rosé Bubbles ($7/375ml can). I don't really taste any cherry or strawberry or watermelon. And I can't see what it looks like in the glass, because I'm drinking it straight from the can. (And you thought I was a snob.)

But it's a perfectly pleasant sipper, with a soft, creamy texture and flavors of apricot and orange zest, a little flint and a little fresh bread. It's a warm, nearly humid evening here in Taos, I'm watching the sunset (from inside, because of the no-see-ums) and I am not mad at this little can of wine at all.

But I guess I should relinquish the can and try something else. Our next unusual rosé is also bubbly, but it does come in a bottle, albeit a bottle topped by a beer cap, rather than a traditional cork. The 2018 Subject to Change Party Monster Pet Nat Rosé of Carignan ($28/750ml bottle, and no I did not make that name up), in truth, looks like sparkly fruit punch. It is cloudy and densely pinkish-orange - its cloudiness coming from the fact that not only is it unfined and unfiltered, but unlike virtually all sparkling wines, it is also not disgorged. That means that all the yeast cells that created the bubbles in the wine are still in there. Weird! Yes!

Coming from a single vineyard in Mendocino county, the grapes are organic and biodynamic. There is no sulfur added to the wine. It is just about as natural as a wine can be. It is also fantastic. Yeasty and fruity, ripe with raspberry and strawberry and guava -- a veritable party in a glass. This is absolutely what summer tastes like.

Now, before we get to our final wine, I have a confession to make. This last wine is actually not a rosé. In fact, it's a zinfandel, but before you accuse me of drinking white zinfandel (shame on you), hear me out. This is a red wine, made by pretty much the same process as a rosé: leaving the juice in contact with the grape skins for a limited time, allowing the finished wine to show some of the color and flavor and texture from the skin, but not all.

The 2018 Fatalone Primitivo Puglia Teres ($27) is a style traditional to Puglia, the heel of Italy's boot, where the grape primitivo (aka zinfandel) makes a wine that may sometimes be too robust for the region's hot weather. Hence, this is a wine with the character of primitivo, but without the weight--appropriate to serve chilled on a warm Italian (or New Mexican) summer day.

In the glass, this wine is actually lighter in color than the Party Monster. But the winemakers call it a red, and I won't be the one to disagree with them. Because it really does smell like a red primitivo. Hot rock and volcanic ash, with a helping of roasted meat. Intensely mineral on the palate, but not without the dark fruits one expects in a primitivo, especially black raspberry. It has density in the mouth, but is not heavy, especially with a nice chill on it. This is one crazy wine. And I love it.

So this summer, by all means guzzle the pale Provençals, the vin gris, the pink vinho verde. All are excellent choices. But maybe every now and then, try and think outside the box (or bottle). Try a weird rosé today - you may just be as giddy about them as I am.

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