Tickled Pink

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This Valentine’s Day, impress the one you love with a rosé Champagne

nol_jan08_medres_page_48_image_0001.jpgNothing typifies romance like a bouquet of delicately perfumed longstemmed red roses, a box of divinely rich chocolates and a crystal flute glass of blissful bubbly. For me, the only thing that can possibly top Champagne as the libation of love is rosé Champagne. It possesses all the enticing, ethereal qualities of sparking wine but is accented by a distinctive pink hue. Who can forget Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr each ordering pink Champagne in the ultraromantic tearjerker An Affair to Remember?

So, how are these blush-tinged bubbles created and what makes them so desirable? Well, there are two ways to produce rosé Champagne, the first being the most common and slightly easier method: simply blending red wine with the clear juice. Like Champagne, true rosé Champagne is made exclusively in the Champagne region of France (all others are technically “sparkling wines”) and is typically made with a combination of only three grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. The second method of production used to create pink Champagne is one called “saignée,” (labeled as Rosé de Saignée) in which the clear grape juice is put into contact with the red grape skins for a brief period, essentially dying the juice. The longer the contact, the deeper the color.

Rosé Champagnes range greatly in style, from subtly flavored pale salmon-colored wines to richer, bolder more fruit-driven examples. I personally find rosé Champagnes to be incredibly food-friendly, even more so than regular Champagne because they tend to offer a tad more structure and concentration. Depending upon the producer’s distinct house style, you can pair rosé Champagne with virtually anything, from fish, chicken and pork to duck, beef and lamb. Some fruit-based desserts and even white chocolate marry well with pink Champagne.

Rosé Champagnes have become more and more sought after the past few years, as they are somewhat mysterious, incredibly versatile and definitely alluring. So this Valentine’s Day don’t forget to think pink and let the romance flow freely. Now, that’s amore!

Rosé Champagne Picks

Billecart-Salmon NV Brut Rosé, $85
This lovely salmon-colored rosé is packed with vibrant fruit flavors, including fresh red berries and lemon zest. It emits a beautiful flowery bouquet, is impeccably balanced and refreshingly long.

Duval-Leroy NV Brut Rosé de Saignée NV, $40
Made from 100 percent Pinot Noir, this lush, fruity rosé offers delicate red berry flavors and good concentration, balanced with lively acidity. Supple and round, it has nice, tight bubbles and a lingering finish.

Laurent-Perrier NV Brut Rosé, $60
Pale pink in color, this bright, fresh wine gives off aromas of raspberries, red currants and black cherries. Intensely fruity on the palate, with well-defined red fruit flavors dominated by raspberries and strawberries, it is rich and supple on the finish.

Moet & Chandon NV Brut Imperial Rosé, $40
Crisp and racy, this medium-bodied pale pink rosé has clean aromas of red fruits delicately accented with spice and brioche. Well-structured, zesty and balanced, it exhibits spicy, yeasty flavors highlighted by black cherry and wild strawberries.

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rosé NV, $42
This deep copper-salmon-colored wine features scents of ripe blackberries, raspberries and currants. Charming and intensely fruity, it is still light and delicate on the palate and strikes the perfect balance between fruit and acidity.

Perrier Jouët Blason Rosé NV, $60
This light copper-colored rosé offers plenty of charm and character. Delicate, yet stimulating and balanced, it releases aromas of red fruit and dry cherry accented by fresh flowers. Elegant flavors of strawberries, plums and yeast precede the soft and lingering finish.

Veuve Clicquot NV Ponsardin Brut Rosé, $50
Vibrant and vivacious, the bouquet is packed with fresh red fruit, almonds and apricots. Harmonious and perfectly balanced, it displays elegance and lively fruit with a beautifully ample finish.