Wow, halfway through this wine challenge and still going strong! It’s been quite the ride thus far, with still so many wines left on the list.
So far I’ve blogged about these styles (with links to any you might have missed):
- Spanish Cava
- French Beaujolais
- Italian Prosecco
- Grüner Veltliner
- New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc
- Argentinian Malbec
- Greek Moschofilero
- Spanish Sherry
- Chilean Pinot Noir
- Oregon Pinot Noir
- Italian Pinot Grigio
- California Chardonnay
- Orange Wine
Tonight, I hope to fulfill a promise from last week to discuss how rosé wine is made. Officially, I’m supposed to try an Austrian Zweigelt as a dry red, but… let’s just say I found a killer deal on an organic rosé and ultimately decided to be a nerd and trundle merrily off the beaten path with a stupid grin on my face.
Heck, I can try a regular old Zweigelt anytime. And perhaps I shall, but on another day.
TODAY, WE SPEAK OF PINK WINE. One might make mention of that movie where they wear pink on Wednesdays, but I have neither seen said movie nor worn pink since grade school, so I’ll simply let the wine be pink and call it square.
It’s also Thursday, though I technically began writing this post on Wednesday. But I digress.
A winemaker produces rosé through one of three methods:
- Blending red with white wine. Wine Enthusiast and other sources note this occuring with rosé champagne, but with little mention otherwise. While consumers believe this to be a common method of creating rosé, the latter two options described below remain far more prevalent.
- Brief skin contact, sometimes called “direct press” or “maceration.” Grape skins provide color to wine, along with other helpful (repeat after me: tasty) elements like tannins and flavors. In the case of rosé, skin contact — or maceration as the official term — occurs for anywhere between a few hours to a day, where a red wine may have days or sometimes weeks to soak. A lot of this timing depends on the grape species’s characteristics and the winemaker’s desired style. Once the wine reaches the optimum color, the liquid “must” (a.k.a. grape juice) drains into a tank/barrel for fermentation. For simplicity’s sake, I’m stopping here, though this method does subdivide.
- Saignée method. In this third style, a decidedly more complicated variation of the previous one, winemakers begin the process of vinifying a red wine. Then, when the must reaches a certain level of pink hue thanks to maceration, they “bleed” off some of the juice and separate it into a different fermentation vessel (often a steel tank, but that can vary) for the creation of a rosé, while the remainder continues to gain color from the grape skins for red wine. This all occurs prior to fermentation. While it theoretically makes two wines from one crop harvest, factors such as equipment, manpower and space within a winery often make Saignée less feasible and can drive up the price of the final wine(s). At some point I’ll discuss what little I know about wine economics, but that day sits firmly in the future.
Because the wine tonight does hold a Demeter Certification as organic and biodynamic, this bears a touch of explanation, though I will go into much more detail at a later date. Pinky promise.
The teacher in me really really really wants to make a Venn Diagram that illustrates the differences between these two terms. If y’all ask me to, I totally will just for giggles on that later date — let me know in the comments. I can even sweeten the deal by littering cartoon characters all over the diagram, too.
Organic wine =
Means that all elements of a wine must be organic, including the yeast, according to laws in the United States. Adding onto that is a list of substances that are prohibited or restricted above certain amounts within the wine. In fact, wines imported to the States labeled as “organic” must also follow the standards to maintain that distinction.
You can find more detailed information about organic wines from the USDA here.
Biodynamic wine =
The essence of biodynamics relies on the idea of building an interconnected ecosystem, not simply single-crop farming. Instead of designating land solely for viticulture (grape-growing), biodynamic vineyards also have animals, non-harmful insects, and other plants present that help nurture both the grapes and the land as a sustainable organism. Chemicals are a huge no-no, and winemakers use patterns such as a growing calendar and the movements of the stars and planets to help make vineyard decisions.
Not going to lie to you; there’s quite a bit that goes into biodynamic wine, and I haven’t even scratched the surface. Some of you may even think of it as incredibly weird, but if they make good wine, does it really matter at the end of the day?
A good primer on biodynamics can be found here for those interested.
Week 14 Wine: Biokult Zweigelt Rosé
The bottle notes the use of organic grapes, as well as Demeter certification as a biodynamic vineyard at Biokult. The primary winemaker of this Austrian family winery, Angela Michlits, focuses on creating high-quality and single varietal (meaning using only one type of grape) wines. Hurray for female vintners! 😀
Region: Burgenland, Austria
Style: Dry rosé
Grape: 100% Zweigelt (organic grapes)
A clear, deep salmon with strong pink tints. This is a beautifully hued wine, and the intensity of the color suggests that I’ll find some detectable tannin on the palate.
Clean and fruit-forward. Strawberry, raspberry, cranberry and melon aromas at medium intensity; this is a simple, youthful wine (further evidenced by the 2019 vintage on the label).
Flavors follow the aromas of this simple rosé with strawberry and raspberry, but also adds lemony citrus notes, white peach, and white pepper at medium intensity. It’s dry, with medium plus acid, low alcohol, light tannin (haha, called it!), and a light body. The finish, of a medium minus length, resolves cleanly into its crisp acidity.
Balance-wise, while the Biokult ranks higher in acidity, it’s not unpleasant or jarring; all elements fall into a beautiful line of fruity flavor. Intensity remains at medium, with a shorter finish length and simple flavor profile. Altogether, these elements mark a “good” quality wine for the Zweigelt Rosé. Crisp and clean, this is ready to drink now but should not be aged, because the fruit flavors and aromas will only diminish with time and leave behind nothing to hold up the wine (such as secondary or tertiary notes).
Pairing this wine would prove a fun exercise, since the presence of detectable tannin could foil leaner cuts of meat or leafy vegetables. Add some dressing or a rich sauce, though, and you’ve improved the overall experience exponentially. Remember — tannin loves fat. When it’s light in cases like these, you don’t have to go overboard, but some people are more sensitive to tannin than others.
I’d be curious to sip this wine alongside a bowl of cheddar broccoli soup (though it’s out of season) or seared scallops, myself. What would you try?