May 10, 2007


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Got milk?

It’s OK to be pink
Summer means white zins, roséss
By Tim Protzman

The state of American dining has been in decline for decades.

Not the food; that’s actually getting better. Fresh local foods are the rage. Fusion cuisine, foams and desserts that look like something out of The Jetsons are everywhere. But so are the chains. They serve decent food at lower than haute cuisine prices. Most of the time.

What’s declining is the reverence we had for dining out. Decades ago a trip to the restaurant, and I mean one with a table cloth, required dressing up in your Sunday best and talking softly. You ate food like Chicken Cordon Bleu and Beef Stroganoff. Today, people eat out more often, there’s less cooking at home and the atmosphere is more casual. People view most restaurants as an extension of their kitchens. And in a surprising twist, when people do cook at home it’s usually something grand, like the food we used to only be able to get in fine restaurants. Meatloaf has moved out of the home kitchen and into the restaurant, and Beef Satay, flan and Veal Osso Bucco have come home to roost.

The reason for my infatuation with dining is the meal I had in an out-of-state chain that was weird. The prime rib had a chemical taste. The salad was a wedge of iceberg lettuce and the coffee was lukewarm. But the experience, which was like being in a home kitchen, was nice. It was an anniversary party for a close friend. She and her husband are successful, generous, intelligent and funny. And it was worth the airfare and four-hour layover to celebrate with them. But when it came time for drinks this successful world traveler, this newly appointed college dean, this Ellie Saab-clad totally fit woman ordered: white zinfandel!

Let me say right now, I like white zinfandel. It just surprised me that someone who could afford a 1999 Jean-Michel Gerin Cote Rotie “Les Grandes Places” ($175) — presents the scent violets and a superb finish of smoke, cinnamon and currant with blackberry flavor riles running through it — would order white zinfandel. But I joined her in a glass.

Now a good white zinfandel or rosé is heaven, but a bad one is harsh and tannic like vending machine coffee or raw crabapples. This will be about a few of the good ones.

Pink wine and champagne comes from red or black grapes, or red and white grapes blended. The pink comes from the dark grape skins, which are left in the crushed pulp and juice to impart a little flavor and color.

Rosé or blush wine have acidity that makes them good with summer foods. The acid pairs well with fresh fruit, gazpacho, salads, cheese and hotdogs. They go well with all smoked or processed meats, especially sausage. They are thirst quenching and lively. But they don’t have intense structure and that’s OK. They are a sophisticated version of adult soda pop.
• Talus White Zinfandel ($4.99) from California. A bit leaden on the first sip. Some lemon verbena flavors and a good finish. Pleasant but not challenging. Something you’d take to your eight-year-old’s Little League game or a free band concert on the town green.
• 2006 Turkey Flat Rosé ($21.99). The great thing about Australia is they take their wine seriously and they keep re-inventing themselves. Shiraz, the workhorse of the Australian wine industry, can now be found in sparkling shiraz and late harvest dessert shiraz. This rosé is fun and tannic. It begs for food, but the taste is layered — a kiwi here, a cheery note there. And just so nothing goes to waste it’s made from a blend of shiraz, grenache, cabernet sauvignon and dolcetto, the sweet little cherry-like Italian grape.
• 2005 Beringer White Zinfandel LVS (Limited Vineyard Selection) ($8.99). Nice. Even though white zin’s still a huge seller, it hasn’t had a specialty winery embrace it and craft a boutique rosé. This comes close. Lemon, grapefruit and a hint of strawberry.
• 2006 Artazu Artazuri Navarra Rosado 2006 ($9.99) from Spain’s Navarro region in the north. Pleasant with Volvic water flavors. Minerals, minerals, minerals. Great with tomato and bean dishes like Pasta Fagioli.
• Mulderbosch Rosé ($14.89). This South African wine is made from cabernet sauvignon grapes and is intense with a hint of candy apple sweetness on the finish. I wish more vineyards would add a rose product and really take it seriously.
• Rosé Mas De Gourgonnier ($13.99). From Provence, France, the home of pink wines. Light and almost bubbly with a hint of raspberry flavor.
• 2004 Tavel Rosé, Chateau de Trinquevedel ($23.49). Made from seven different grapes. Mostly Grenache. This is crafted and nice but the vintage might be a little weak. Would like to try the ’05 or “heatwave harvest” ’04. Lots of French rosés and pink wines have Tavel or Bandol on the label.

5/3/2007 In praise of tastings

4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce