You know that spring has officially arrived when, instead of tulips, you see bottles of rosé popping up everywhere you look. And even though the weather here in the Mile High City hasn't been exactly stellar, the season for drinking all things pink arrived earlier than ever, with the city's top restaurants and wine shops proudly displaying their commitment to the #JustDrinkPink cause as early as the end of March. During a recent spate of dinner parties and casual soirées, rather than overhearing appalled guests gasping, "What the hell is up with this pink wine?", we were delighted to catch cries of "Where the hell IS the pink wine?" This is what we in the wine business call "progress."
All of this proves that after years of trying to shake its reputation as sweet, unserious wine, rosé wines have finally proven that they are no joke. Read on for my list of the six hottest pinks to drink this spring, and where to go in Denver to score them.
See also: Best restaurant wine list -- Denver 2014
6) Bender Rosé Secco NV ($16) We're kicking off our list of the season's must-drink pinks with a sparkler -- because of course we're starting off the list with a sparkler. This one features a blend of pinot noir and merlot from the Pfalz region of Germany, which may seem surprising to those of you who usually conjure up images of riesling when contemplating wines of Teutonic origin. What's unsurprising is how utterly delectable it is, with its easy-off beer-bottle cap closure, raspberry jam flavors and insouciant little bubbles. There's absolutely nothing formal about this bubbly -- we suggest slamming it at brunch, or pairing it with a prosciutto panini and fries. Actually, drink it as often as you can.
5) Ercavio Tempranillo Rosé 2013 ($11) The lush, creamy strawberry aromas that assaulted our senses as we filled our glasses with this 100 percent tempranillo rosé were pure foreshadowing for what we tasted as this wine coursed across our palates -- rich, berry-licious flavors. Irrepressibly lively and a great pleasure to drink, it is the very embodiment of springtime wine drinking. A bit more voluptuous than other old-world rosés, its rich, fleshy mouthfeel makes it versatile enough to pair with everything from burrata to burgers. FYI, look for this rosé's big brother -- Ercavio's straight-up, full-bodied tempranillo, which would be just the thing to drink with barbecued ribs this summer.
4) Ametzoi Txakolina Rubentis Rosé 2013 ($18) We know you're staring at the name of this wine and trying to figure out just how the hell you're supposed to pronounce it, and that's completely understandable. We'll break it down for you: 'Ametzoi' is the name of this vaunted Spanish winemaker, as bad-assed as they come given that they've been crafting the Basque-indigenous varieties found in Txakolina (pronounced "chock-oh-leena") wines for more than seven generations. Now that you know how to ask for it (and ask for it you will), let's focus on what's really crucial here -- the wine itself. The Ametzoi is the literal expression of what rosé wines should always be: fresh, fruity without being sweet, and infinitely quaffable. Even more enticing is the fact that most txakolina (like vinho verde) wines are possessed of a particularly thirst-quenching effervescence, and this one's no exception. Bonus: Its lower alcohol content means you can make like the Basques and porron this wine to your heart's content. Keep reading for three more hot rosé wines.
3) my ESSENTIAL Rosé 2013 ($13) If you're thinking that calling this wine "essential" might be a bit of hyperbole, think again. The brainchild of multi-hyphenate Master Sommelier Richard Betts (along with his other wine-making projects, his recently published "The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert" and his wildly successful Sombra mezcal offering, this latest venture has left the rest of us feeling like major slackers) my Essential rosé is precisely that: everything you need and want from a rosé wine. "Effortless" is another adjective we'd use to describe this breezy mashup made mostly using the classic French varieties found in many Provençal pinks: grenache, cinsault and syrah. Full of vibrant acidity and expressive, just-picked berry flavors, this is a wine to scoop by the case.
2) Turley White Zinfandel 2013 ($18) Do not adjust your screen's resolution -- you're reading this right, people: White zinfandel is back, but not in the cringe-inducing style you remember from the '90s. That's because Turley (one of the most famous zinfandel producers on the planet) bravely took up the charge to reclaim white zinfandel from its relegation to the bottom shelves of forlorn liquor stores and remind us that it is just as worthy of your love as any other dry rosé. That's the key -- this white zinfandel bears absolutely no resemblance to its unfortunate forbears, because it is almost searingly crisp (thanks to Turley's picking of the grapes well before their sugar levels start to skyrocket) and therefore ridiculously refreshing. Relish in the satisfaction of serving this wine to your scandalized companions and watching their expressions shift from disdain to delight. Then drop the mic -- and go fetch another bottle.
1) José Maria da Fonseca Coleccão Privada Moscatel Roxo 2013 ($16) Portuguese wine has become quite the darling of sommeliers and other industry peeps of late. But if you're among the uninitiated, let us humbly suggest this is the ideal wine to start with. Featuring stunning floral aromas of freshly cut roses, orange blossom and ripe peach, the wine only continued to impress from there. Lush, ripe apricot, even more peach and bright lemon flavors had us swooning while we plotted ways to make sure we got our hands on as much of this beautiful wine as possible. Given all of the fantastic rosé wines we've already tasted this year, it might seem hard to highlight one as flying high above the others. But although there are still at least four more months of official pink wine-drinking months ahead of us, finding a wine more gorgeous than this is going to prove quite the feat.
Find these fantastic rosé wines at Denver restaurants and wine shops that love pink wine as much as we do:
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