Month: August 2010

Drink First With Your Eyes and Then Your Taste Buds

France’s most refreshing pink drink is the main wine of summer. It’s fresh, crisp, and just the right match for summer salad, pizzas, and almost anything off the grill!

Rose is something you drink first with your eyes, and then with your taste buds.  That’s what a Frenchman told me when we were sipping a coppery pink version that tasted like fresh peaches and cream in a glass last time we were in France.  He wasn’t kidding.  For the advocates, French rose is visual appearance ranging from palest light pink to deepest strawberry red.  The difference in colors is matched only by the variety of styles:  what is light, crisp, refreshing in one region, is full bodied, intense and silky smooth in another region.  And summer is the prefect time to enjoy   rose.  There ‘s just something about summer food-grilled vegetables, steaks, salads, simple seafood dishes-that calls for a glass of something cool and pink.

The most convincing (although maybe not the most romantic) reason to drink French rose comes down to value.  We go through our fair share of rose at our store, so price is very much an issue when it comes down to sales.  Some of the Cult Italian producers rose reaches upward of $80-$100 a bottle. Some of the local California roses approach $40s.  And while you could spend upwards of  $120 on a bottle of Chateau D’Esclans”Garrus” from Provence, you really don’t have to. J  There are plenty of exceptional French roses from Provence, and beyond that are made for summer sipping that are food-friendly, and cost less than $30 a bottle!  The cooler climates of France produces higher acid and lower sugar and alcohol than most Spanish or many New World roses, making them perfect at the summer table.

To be more specific we need to spend time first on explaining color.  Rose wines get their shade from the skins of red grapes.  The grape varietal and the length of time the juice has contact with the skin determine the intensity of color.  Grape skins are also what give a wine it’s tannins, so darker roses are often fuller bodied than their lighter counterparts, like the bright red Greache-driven wines from Tavel in the southern Rhone, or the Cabernet- and Merlot base version From Bordeaux.  Conversely the pale and pretty roses from Provence and the Loire tend to be crisp and lighter in style.

Color can give you other hints about the wine as well.   One of the main things we share with customers is before any tasting; you should first look at the color. This can spot defects.  Then you need to ask yourself some questions such as “Is it a bright and fresh color? Is it beautiful?  And finally going back to the French gentleman – First look and then stick your nose in!

Three of our favorite roses from Provance are   Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose from Provance, Chateau de Pampelonne Rose and Domaine Ott Rose.

There’s a world of rose beyond Provence and, depending on your mood and menu, you might want to venture out to   Languedoc-Roussillon region.  There are plenty more roses from burgundy, Sancerre and Loire Valley that are Pinot based that will be a great accompaniment with a flank steak or grilled pork, smoked trout or pate.  The Roses are also a must with fresh goat cheese or spicy ethnic cuisines from Thai to Mexican or Indian foods.

So, may be as superficial as this could be said: “Judge a glass by its color.”

Beer Appellation!


Where wine is concerned, the topic of appellation is very clear-cut when it involves wine. Grow the fruit in a given region and you earn that area’s appellation. Of course other rules and regulations have to be valid what wines are able to boast specific sub-designations such as the Italian reservas or the crus of French Bordeaux. This allows a consumer to know the prestige and respect of certain wines.

 Beer appellation, however, has less to do with growing regions than it does places of consumption. The soul of a brew is found not in the soil, but in the café, the beer hall or the tavern. You might say this is crazy, but the truth is, the environment of any drink will affect the enjoyment and pleasure of it. If you remove the beverage from its ideal position and while it will smell and taste the same, the perception of those aromas and flavors will in all probability change. Beer is however exacerbated by the fact that certain styles allow an almost physically emotional connection to their areas of origin.

It is a bond that goes beyond the mere romance of a glass of Dom Pergnion sipped on a terrace in Paris overlooking the Rhone River or a pint of Guinness supped in a Dublin pub. It is a relationship that, like wine appellations, speaks to the very understanding of the drink. Although most winemakers are reliant on the soils at this disposal and agrarian skills to produce the grapes that will become wine, brewers have at their disposal barley, hops and yeast plus more ingredients. They can alter the profiles of their tap water and so on. But what no brewery has is replicating the conditions and traditions of the classic beer styles.

 After all a beer’s appellation is not where it is made, but where it is enjoyed!