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People who enjoy wine tend to think of themselves as open-minded. Certainly more so than the beer drinkers. And don’t get me started on the whiskey-bourbon set. But even wine drinkers are notoriously close-minded when it comes to one topic: pink wine. Pink wine, or what the French snootily refer to as ros� (which, coincidentally enough, is French for pink), gets a bad rap. The reason is simple � the American higher education system. Years of white zinfandel consumption in college have impressed upon many of us that pink wines, or what college students call blush, can be really nasty. An even bigger shame than drinking white zinfandel in college is that so many of these people, once out of college, otherwise enjoy wine but fail to realize that pink wines, at their best, are fruity, flavorful, refreshing, and almost completely dry. These attributes mean that ros�s go well with all types of food, including salads and standard picnic fare like hamburgers and fried chicken. The combination of fruitiness and acidity in a chilled ros� also makes it ideal for warm weather sipping. During the summer months, I appreciate the unique traits of ros�s and probably drink them more than red wine � and I love red wine. For those who don’t know, pink wines are not made from pink grapes (nor are all white wines made from white grapes, or all chocolate milk from chocolate cows). Rather, pink wine is produced in one of two ways. In the first method, sometimes employed accidentally by inebriated wine drinkers, the winemaker mixes a little red wine with a fair bit of white wine. The second technique requires a bit more skill. A winemaker crushes red grapes and leaves the resulting juice in contact with the skins (which makes red wine red) for a much shorter period of time than if he were making a red wine. From then on, the wine is treated much like a white wine. In an effort to put a small dent in the prejudice against pink wines, I recalled the “normals” (a group of eager, but not necessarily polished, wine drinkers introduced and thoroughly insulted last month) for another blind tasting and rounded up nine different ros�s purchased at local wine stores. All but one of the wines were from the 2004 vintage. This makes some sense since the qualities that make ros� wine appealing � tang, fruit, and bright flavors � tend to diminish over time. Of the nine wines, four hailed from various regions of France, three came from the United States, and two came from Spain. The normals were simply told that the wines were pink, though I bet they would have picked up on that themselves eventually. A few trends revealed themselves. First, price seemed to be a nonfactor. All the wines were relatively inexpensive � $7 to $16 � but we saw little correlation between price and quality. Second, the normals’ sophisticated palates almost uniformly spurned the Beringer White Zinfandel ($7). It ranked dead last on all but one sheet. (You know who you are.) The group’s general reaction to the white zin was summed up by the curt “yak!” The group also found the French ros�s a bit austere for their tastes. The Domaine de Fontsainte ($14) from the Corbieres region was given a “C for average,” though someone thought it had a “beautiful finish.” The La Ros�e de Pavie ($13, from the famous Chateau Pavie in Bordeaux) was deemed to be “nice” and “fruity,” but ultimately lacking in flavor. The highest-ranked French wine, coming in fourth overall, the Chateau Grande Cassagne ($8), was described as “tangy,” “refreshing,” and “deep.” This southern French wine received one of the ultimate compliments for a ros�: “I could drink this all day.” The top three wines (closely grouped together, but head and shoulders above the rest) were either new world, or were made in a more fruit-forward, new world style. The 2003 Hess Syrah Ros� ($13) from Monterey, Calif., was “tart,” with “green apple” and “lots of fruit.” The normals even detected “bacon” and “black pepper” flavors � two characteristics often identified with the syrah grape. The 1+1=3 Cabernet Sauvignon Ros� ($14) � one of my favorite everyday drinking wines � gave off aromas of “bubblegum” and “raspberry” to compliment its full mouth-feel and “great balance.” Some of the normals thought that it was somewhat sweet, probably because the wine shows abundant fruit flavors compared with the more-demure French ros�s. Finally, the normals enjoyed the “raspberry,” “strawberry,” and “peach” found in the M�nage � Trois ($15) from Folie � Deux in Napa. They found the blend of syrah, merlot, and gew�rztraminer to be “rieslinglike.” It’s possible that some of them may actually have had rieslings before. The final noticeable trend was that the most popular wines tended to have the most vibrant color. The best wines looked, smelled, and tasted fresh. Besides that, I can give you just a couple pieces of advice: stay away from the white zin (or almost anything called “blush”) and keep an open mind. Luckily the price of ros� is low enough, and the D.C. summer long and hot enough, that you can try out lots of bottles to find a favorite. Phillip Dub� is an attorney at D.C.’s Covington & Burling. He can be contacted at [email protected].

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