Aside from jingle of bells and the crunch of snow, one of the most common sounds this time of year is the pop! from a freshly opened bottle of bubbly. Sparkling wine becomes such a habitual part of life, that one can even grow a tad weary of the same flutes of bubbles. I adore the rosé versions of sparklers any time, but especially during the high holiday season. They help maintain that air of festivity, while also adding some variety to the mix. Since the pink hue – which can range from the faintest splash to a rich, vibrant, almost-red – comes from red wine grapes brought into the blend, they are also a brilliant pairing for a variety of cuisines, from cheeses and charcuterie to heavier nibbles and that inevitable order of Chinese take out or sushi. Not to mention, they form a terrific base for fizzy cocktails and punches.
Here are a few of my favorite pink sparkly things, perfect for New Year’s Eve, of course, but with such affordable price points, they also hold a much more enduring purpose to spruce up routine sipping.
Bouvet Excellence Rosé Brut NV: This brownish-pink 100% Loire Valley cabernet franc was a huge hit when brought to a holiday party recently, where it seemed to match so perfectly with the array of cheeses, smoked meats and pigs in blankets that were served. The fresh currant, raspberry and slightly herbal flavors make it easy to sip, with bubbles that are just the right mousse for casual sipping. $17
Corte dei Rovi Rosato Spumante Brut NV: Who doesn’t love a blingy bottle, especially when the liquid inside is just as pretty as its container? This 100% Merlot sparkler from Italy makes a perfect wine for a wintry first course or a seafood stew, especially if red wine lovers are on the guest list. New York area somms agree, since they blind tasted it (yes, they decided they loved it even before they saw the bottle) at the 2017 NY International Wine Competition and awarded it a gold medal. It might be a little tough to find, but snatch a few up to enjoy throughout the year if spotted in the wild. $20
Rotari Brut Rosé NV: Here’s another treat from Italy, this time from Trentino. Pinot noir and chardonnay grown in the micro-climates of the Dolomites give this pale pink sparkling wine mineral structure and lush, berried aromatics. This is a good option as a stand alone aperitif sipping wine, as well as one to pair with light fare and smoked fishes. $20
Taittinger Prestige Rosé NV: This Champagne is a such a stunning shade of pink I want to consult a cosmetician to color match it as a lipstick. Chardonnay pinot meunier and pinot noir harvested from Montagne de Reims and Les Riceys are vinified separately and blended together (85% white wine, 15% red) – with over 15 different crus selected for the final blend, as well as younger pinot noir for a delicate punctuation of tanginess. When I feel I’ve accomplished something, this is the kind of bottle I want to pop open as a reward, and yet as Champagne goes, it’s surprisingly affordable at $35.
Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Rosé Brut NV: “How are you going to pair wine with quiche?” asked my cousin when planning a family brunch gathering. Easy! Get this fading sunset-hued 100% pinot noir and taste as its dry, fresh summer berry flavors cut through creamy egg dishes without leaving a bitter aftertaste. It was also delicious with a slice of dark chocolate babka. $20
Raventós i Blanc Cava Rosé de Nit 2015: The dynamic grape trio of the Cava region – x-arello, macabeu and parellada – meet a few luscious drops of red monastrell for the perfect kiss of dark berry flavors with a solid backbone of acidity. Here is where a well established Spanish wine estate lets itself gets a little playful. And for an organic, vintage Cava made at a 15th century estate, you can’t beat the price at $20.photo via Gnarly Vines
Wölffer Estate No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider: No, this isn’t wine, however it’s a New York State hard apple cider from a Hamptons vineyard that certainly knows its wine (and has even won 2017 NY International Wine Competition Long Island Winery of the Year). Though perhaps a bit fruitier than a typical dry rosé style, this dusty rose-hued sparkling cider accomplishes all the things a sparkling wine can. It’s dry and crisp to pair with cheeses and charcuterie, feels more festive and elegant than an everyday quaffer and has pretty bubbles to gaze at as they rise and pop in a glass. The bonus is it’s available in 355 mL bottles, only around $6 each.
Cheers to great sipping in 2018!