It's almost impossible to write about pink wines these days without invoking some sort of cliche. Even the (true) claim that rosé wines are no longer out of fashion has been recycled so many times that I'm cringing just typing it.
The fact of the matter is that after years of being vino-non-grata, pink wines are finally back in the awareness of American wine drinkers. After the success of Sutter Home White Zinfandel sent wine lovers running for the hills every time someone offered them a glass of rosé, discerning palates are returning to pink wines in huge numbers. How huge? Sales growth for the last few years has consistently been in the double digits.
If there's one organization that might actually be able to take partial credit for this, it would be the masked crusaders at RAP: Rosé Avengers and Producers. This motley crew of stubborn winemakers and publicists decided three years ago that they were tired of seeing pink wines dismissed as the oenological equivalent of Kraft Singles. So they set out to change the way people thought about pink wines in America. And it appears that they very well may have succeeded.
Of course, that doesn't mean that there's lots of good rose being produced in the United States. Sadly, America still can't hold a candle to the rosés of southern France, southern Italy, or Northern Spain. Slowly but surely, though, more and more U.S. wineries are figuring out how to make dry-as-a-bone, crisp, floral rosés with a nice undercurrent of acidity. And this tasting is my annual way of checking to see how the progress is going. Thankfully, there are always a few French wine labels in attendance to make up for the dark syrupy wines that some California producers attempt to pass off as rosé.
If you're interested in experiencing the ultimate pink wine experience, you can't do better than the RAP Pink Out Tastings, which are held every Spring in San Francisco. Be warned, however, this is a popular event and a very small space. I recommend going early, and steeling yourself for dealing with a crowd. Having said that, there are some good wines to be tasted, and the appetizers that are served are usually quite good as well.
Rosé Avengers and Producers: Pink Out 2011
Tuesday, May 10th
6:30pm to 8:30pm
Pier 33, The Embarcadero (at Bay Street)
San Francisco, CA
Tickets are available for $35 in advance on the event web site. This tasting will likely sell out, as it has done every year, so get them ahead of time.
Street parking can be found on Bay Street, and the Muni streetcar stops right out front.
My usual tips for such public wine tastings: go with food in your stomach; wear dark clothing (or pink, in this case); drink lots of water; and make sure to spit so that you can actually learn something.
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