Ever curious to learn about the wines I've come to enjoy, I wondered what made one rose (or blush) wine different from another. Eventually, I did come to realize that these wines in general tend to have less alcohol, and are popular amongst those who don't like strong cocktails. But I also learned that not all rose wines are alike. Depending upon the region, and even the way the wine is produced-one can end up with a hearty, fruity experience, or a light and airy one. I selected two rose wines, and took a closer look at how the grapes were grown and how the wine was manufactured. It was also very interesting to note how much the flavor of wine can vary depending on a few small environmental factors. See how France's Bordeaux rose wine compares to America's more popular Sutter Home White Zinfandel.
Clarendelle Rose (Bordeaux Region)
Clarendelle Rose is a bright rose-colored wine whose notes are equally bright. The intense color is a result of allowing the grapes to ferment while in contact with their red skins, for only a short time. Sophisticated palates will probably detect hints of blueberry and raspberry. Some have claimed to taste elements of blackberry as well, in this Bordeaux wine. But because of the Bordeaux region's pebbly soil, the undertone still remains very light and sandy.
Those who happen to be serving spicy Indian food are in luck if they have a bottle of Clarendelle Rose, as this wine goes well with punchy foods. And because of the wine's delicate texture, most cheeses go well with it. Desserts and entrées seasoned with ginger (carrot cake, or ginger bread) are also good pairings. The $20 price tag (give or take) makes this Bordeaux a reasonably affordable wine for entertaining.
Sutter Home White Zinfandel (Napa Valley, California)
The Zinfandel grape, typically deep red in color, is used to make Sutter Home White Zinfandel. In order to achieve the light rose color of the wine, the Zinfandel grapes are crushed, with excess juice being removed and fermented separately. It is this fermented liquid that becomes "White Zinfandel."
This wine has considerably less alcohol than other wines-and because of its lightness in texture, goes very well with a variety of foods, especially barbecued meats and most pastas. This is perhaps why it has been referred to as a "quaffing wine": wine that can be gulped rather than meagerly sipped. All in all, Sutter Home's flavor is sweet and light, without as much kick as its red and white siblings. The brand sells in most supermarkets for under $10.