Make Me Blush

Listen, I am old enough to remember the days of Sutter Home White Zinfandel with its sweet, sweet taste and lovely salmon color. I will confess here that in spite of myself and the food devotee I would become, I drank my fair share of it. Back then, I was a newcomer to wine so in addition to the color and drinkability, I loved that it was called blush, a name that appealed to the poet in me. But, this was also during my Carlo Rossi drinking days (which I now blush to tell you I purchased by the gallon). What I didn’t know about wine then could fill an ocean.

And then White Zin fell by the wayside and became an outcast in the same way Merlot would after Sideways came out. Until recently, that is.

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch at one of those  all too hip Boulder restaurants where the wait staff wear jean shirts and crisp white aprons and serve pâté, locally sourced. Tap water is brought to the table in one of those trendy stopper-topped glass bottles; the walls are exposed brick, the ceilings high, the chandeliers antique crystal, and the wood tables “rustic” butcher block. While waiting for my own plate of pâté, I was surprised to see glass after glass of lovely rose-colored wine adorning tables and being pressed to all-too-perfect Boulder lips. The scene was so manicured and lovely, I imagined myself a glossy ad for Aspen.

Apparently, the 80s were back, though they clearly had had some face work.

Mixed Berry Galette
I had been vaguely aware that rosé was all the rage, but this summer, it seems to have exploded:  All the beautiful people are drinking it. Even my favorite local liquor store, which prides itself on a small, eclectic selection, carries half a dozen chilled bottles in the cooler case. Curious, I decided to revisit my days of wine and rosé when my Aunt MaryAnn, a big big fan of the lovely colored liquid, came to town. In celebration, I hosted a tasting and BBQ for her at my mountain cabin along with my food-loving sis and her husband (who knows a bit about wine) and my adorable 3 year-old niece, Ava. 

Let’s cut to the chase:  Everyone one of us, Ava excepted, was wildly unimpressed. The first wine (Chateau Lauzade Rose 2012, a French appellation that was a mixture of Grenache, Cinsualt, Tibouren and Syrah) was so dry, most of us put it down after one sip. Okay, I thought, we were definitely out of Sutter Home territory. I’d gone to the trouble of getting a recommendation from the buyer at the little liquor store who, after hearing me recount my Sutter Home days, wanted me to “have a good experience.”  Instead, I felt like a virgin all over again, one who’d finally embraced the long-anticipated big event, and had rolled over with a sigh and no small amount of  incredulity, and thought “That was it?”

On to the second, Beckman Vinyards PMV Grenache Rosè 2012 from California. The tasting notes I found gave it a 90/100, but, honestly, I poured mine back in the bottle. No one liked this wine, which cost about $20, although Orion insisted it had a mead-like finish, which would have made it interesting if I liked mead.

Last, we sampled the least expensive bottle of wine, Camille Cayran Secret de Campane 2012, another blend from the Rhone region of France with pleasingly pink lettering on the bottle. After two surprisingly dry tastings, we settled on this bottle, a blend of Grenache, Carignan and Cinsault, as the best. Still, no one was tripping down the tasting trail.

I felt cheated. I had expected to write about how I fell in love with pink wine all over again and profess my mature, educated palate. But what’s making me blush is that the meh factor was so high with the wines we tasted, I don’t think I’ll dip my toe (or my tongue) into those salmon-colored waters any time soon. Okay, I might have been a victim of an ill-conceived experiment:  I have not really cultivated a taste for French wines so the range of flavors was distinctively different from what I’ve come to recognize and like. Plus the day turned chilly and these wines are clearly meant for hot weather.

But in the end, I was left feeling disappointed and frankly, rather dumb. I just didn’t get it. The buyer at my fav little liquor store said I’d love the Lauzade. I did not.

So I’m here to announce the emperor has no clothes. Blush wine is going down in my book under the heading: “Can Live Without.” I know there must be some good ones out there, and perhaps I just need to find the right wine, which, after all, like the right lover, can change your mind, just like that. 

Marc Chagall – The Lovers

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