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 rose, discerning palates are returning to pink wines in huge numbers. According to the Nielsen Company, sales of rosé wines were up 53.2% last year.
If there’s one organization that might actually be able to take 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.
Now if they could only get California winemakers to learn how to make really good rosé, everything would indeed be right in the world. That sounds a little harsh, and it is supposed to. There are some excellent pink California wines out there, but there are far more awful ones than good. Especially when compared with some of the other regions of the world that are known for rosé: Southern France, Spain, Southern Italy — all these regions are chock full of beautifully dry, crisp, pink wines that many California winemakers seem unable to duplicate. Things will get better over time, of course, especially as those who know what they’re doing impart their wisdom to those who don’t.
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 and what seems to always be a chronic shortage of spit buckets.
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 2008
Tuesday, May 13th
6:30pm to 8:30pm
Pier 33, The Embarcadero (at Bay Street)
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.