A Rosé Wine Tasting

#Rosé all day…or not?

I hope you all don’t mind, but this post is a bit of a departure from my usual theme. Consider it a little more lifestyle, a little less home decor, but very much of the season! I’m sharing the truly unscientific results of our rosé wine tasting, and also my tips for hosting your own wine tasting event (because it really is a fun thing to do!).

The idea to write a post on rosé wine was sparked while texting with my sister Amy. We both love wine, but we’ve never really been able to fully embrace the whole rosé movement that takes the country by storm each spring. It’s hard to escape it: Every wine store you enter this time of year has a huge display wall dedicated to the pink stuff.

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Picture via Cashmere Tea

The craze gained some serious momentum maybe six summers ago. Then of course came that famous New York Post article in the summer of 2014 warning us that rosé stockpiles were becoming dangerously low in the Hamptons.  Whatever would we do?!? When Brad and Angelina hopped on board to create their own rosé, Miraval, we knew we were in for it.

And while I might even be so bold as to proclaim that ‘Rosé is now Passé’ (who’s with me on this?), I thought it would be fun to give rosé one more fair shake before we kick off the 2018 summer season. And so, as part of an annual Mother’s Day celebration I hosted this past weekend, I decided to incorporate a rosé wine tasting. I’ve been wanting to host some type of wine tasting, and I’ll definitely do it again.  I came away from this first one with a few important dos and don’ts to share.

Wine Tasting Dos and Don’ts

  • DO choose a single varietal
    • This worked well for my first wine tasting. It was easy to simply email guests and say “bring a rosé” rather than get too specific about each person bringing a specific type of red or white. It also made it less important which order we tasted the wines.
  • DO have your gear ready:
    • Plenty of wine and water glasses,  a couple of cork screws, and notepads and pens for guests to score their wine and keep notes. My favorite wine glasses: Schott-Zwiesel Pure Wine Glasses. I love their distinctive angular design and the fact that they’re dishwasher safe but still thin-rimmed and elegant. You can buy them at several places online or at Total Wine.
  • DO have approximately 5 wines to taste
    • This is an arbitrary number and just happened to be what we ended up with, but I think it provided a good variety of wine without being overwhelming. I would say 5 should be the minimum and 7 the maximum.
  • DO make it a blind tasting (this is more fun!)
    • Ask guests to wrap their wines in aluminum foil before they arrive. Guests may decide to bring a favorite wine and camouflaging the wine during the tasting evens the playing field. Have a sharpie and some masking tape or painter’s tape on hand to label the wines with numbers or letters.
  • DO have a pitcher of water and a dump bucket at the ready
    • It’s definitely important to cleanse the palate (and rinse your glass) between tastings. Guests can dump excess wine in a bowl or pail so they don’t get too tipsy during the tasting 🙂
  • DO choose good snacks to have on hand / DON’T choose smelly snacks:
    • I had some hits and some misses here. A big miss: stinky blue cheese! One guest asked if one of the wines had a strong cheese smell (Whoops!). The best snacks help neutralize your palate from whichever wine you just tasted. Snacks also fill your stomach a bit to absorb all the wine.
    • Winning Snacks: Barefoot Contessa’s Thyme Roasted Marcona Almonds, crackers, Castelvetrano olives
Barefoot Contessa's Thyme-Roasted Marcona Almonds
Barefoot Contessa’s Thyme-Roasted Marcona Almonds
  • DON’T drink the wine in random order. 
    • I had guests taste the wine in whichever order they preferred. I thought since it’s all rosé it wouldn’t matter much.  But in the end I think it’s best to all taste the same wine at the same time. That way you can discuss your opinions as you go. And even more important, you come at each wine with the same taste experience. Despite our best efforts to cleanse our palates in between tastings, the taste of a wine was definitely affected by the wine that preceded it.
  • Do have a list of descriptors.
    • I wasn’t quite organized enough to have this ready, but I think it would’ve been really helpful. We’re all wine novices, so it’s hard to pull adjectives out of our heads that aptly describe what we’re drinking–the smell adjectives are probably the hardest. I wished I’d put together a master list of typical rosé descriptors ahead of time that we could use as a word bank. Terms to include: strawberry, cherry, raspberry, watermelon, citrusy, bone dry, sweet, light bodied, medium-bodied, tart, astringent, tangy, minerally, flowery…you get the idea!

The Results

The moment you’ve all been waiting for: The very scientific results from our very skilled panel of oenophiles (hmmmm…that’s a stretch, but we do all love wine!).

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Our esteemed panel of judges

This was the really fun part. We unwrapped each bottle (make sure you take a photo of the label and note which number/letter it was in the tasting). The Vivino app makes it super easy to snap a pic of any wine label and find out all the information on it: its rating, review and average price. We all shared our opinions and thoughts on the wine and then compared it to what the label said and how experts reviewed it on Vivino. You may even end up second guessing those “experts” when you compare your thoughts to theirs! Probably the most fun part was seeing if the wines we liked best were also the most expensive (one was, one wasn’t).

The Loser

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Brand: Pamplune

Cost: Around $10

Tasting Notes: Syrupy, sweet, dessert wine, apricot, honey, thick, citrusy, grapefruit, fruity, big nose, bright pink

The Takeaway: If you ever drank Boones, you know what this tastes like. Yuck! Run in the opposite direction

The Irony: Supposedly, this was the most popular Rosé at the wine store where it was purchased. If that’s the case, I may as well predict that white zinfandel is going to have a rebirth.

The Other LoserIMG_5103

Brand: Cupcake

Price: Around $10 (maybe less)

Tasting Notes: Very Pink, syrupy, thicker than two of the others, blah, doesn’t taste like anything, sharp after taste

The Takeaway: The popular Cupcake brand doesn’t take the cake when it comes to Rosé.

The DisappointmentIMG_5101

Brand: Whispering Angel

Price: $18-20

Tasting Notes: No smell, very light, tastes like diluted apple juice that you’d serve your toddler, scented at first then dies down, mild, citrus, bland, light color, tart

The Takeaway: Whispering Angel is one of the most well known brands out there. Produced in Provence, the birthplace of rosé, it was very popular in the Hamptons and Nantucket /Martha’s Vineyard a few years back and so developed quite the following. It’s fairly pricey for Rosé and by our esteemed panel of judges, it just doesn’t measure up.

The WinnersIMG_5100

Brand: La Promenade (Provence)

Where to Buy: Trader Joe’s

PriceAround$10

Tasting Notes: Dry, evaporates right off the tongue, light nose, refreshing, champagne-like, almost effervescent, bitter

The Takeaway: Trader Joe’s does it again! At $10 this was priced right. While some tasters thought it was a little bitter or didn’t like the champagne quality, others liked how dry and austere it was and could see it being super refreshing on a hot day. IMG_5102

Brand: Fontanyl (Provence)

Where to Buy: Total Wine

Price: $17

Tasting Notes: Light salmon/straw color, light in taste, dry, citrusy, tart strawberries, stronger than La Promenade, a bit bitter, champagne-like, sharp

The Takeaway: At $17 this is a pricier rosé. Several tasters didn’t love it at first go around, thinking it was bitter or sharp. When we all discussed our notes and did another taste of the wines, however, the Fontanyl was the clear winner. This is an example of how the order in which the wine was tasted affected its rating. Those that tasted this wine right after the syrupy Pamplune rated it low at first.

Our conclusions

We all concluded that rosé is very much a situational wine. Relaxing at a seaside café on a hot summer day with a plate of crispy calamari, it could be just the thing to drink.  I’m not certain, however, that any of us would choose it as our go-to sipping wine throughout the year. I, for one, will not be stockpiling it any time soon–the Hamptons can have my share!  In fact, I think I’ll stick to my current favorite varietal: Italian Barbaresco (hot weather be darned!)…

Hmmm….I may have found the theme for my next wine tasting event!

I know there are lots of other rosés out there (if the wine walls are any indication!). I’d love to learn what your favorites are that I should try. Please drop me a comment!

Cheers–and thanks so much for stopping by!

—Jen

 

1 Comment

  1. I am definitely going to need to throw a wine tasting party now. P.S. Did you know that thanks to us millennials, there is now rose deodorant and frose? Frose = fozen rose; it’s like a rose slurpee and I fell in love with it in Provincetown last summer. I like the kind that’s straight-up frozen rose, but some places add extra sugar that makes it too sweet for me.

Would love to hear your thoughts!