Watch the video above. Admittedly, it’s two minutes and four seconds of your life you’ll never get back… but it’s a sneak-peak into an aspect of the wine business that I don’t experience very often.
“As a winemaker now, people tend to look to me to taste for the table, which used to be an incredibly intimidating process. But one way that you can always look professional… is SST: swirl, smell, taste,” explains actress-and-winemaker Drew Barrymore.
We’re off to a pretty good start. The awkwardness of ordering wine in a restaurant is a situation that nearly every one of us has been in at some point. (Yes, even wine industry folk occasionally find themselves outside their comfort zone.) (P.S. Wait until you get to the end of this post for some real straight-talking.)
Her “SST” method (especially when you watch the video) doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence (doesn’t she know that you really ought to stick your nose into the glass…?) but it’s good advice. It is essentially another way of describing the WSET’s Systematic Approach to Tasting.
“Rosé is when you peel the skin off the grape earlier. It’s a cold fermentation.”
Oh dear. I really dislike when women don’t know what they’re talking about. It perpetuates the common expectation that we’re just the pretty face accompanying a man who knows everything. However, in this case, it seems to be true.
The other half of this winemaking team is Kris Kato and he eloquently explains: “For our Rosé we pick the grapes a little early, using a soft press process and separate the juice from the skins. It’s much like making the white wine. It’s really about minimizing the color, which is why we get beautiful hue. Cold slow fermentation all in stainless steel to preserve the aromatics and the freshness.” (source)
“If it’s too dark, I know it’s gonna be, just not my style.“
Now that’s fair enough. Each to their own. Also, the more insipid Cotes de Provence you drink, the more of the good stuff there’ll be left for me!! I like dark-hued rosé wines because they tend to have personality, they’re more versatile and food-friendly and, most importantly, they don’t make you feel that someone might have swapped your grape juice for paint stripper.
“I think a rose should have that inherently Pavlovian to women, peachy-pink quality, that just draws us in. Somehow, I don’t know what it is about us girls, but we love pink.“
I’m torn. Seriously torn. Do I address the horribly stereotypical and out-dated idea that all girls must love pink or do I admit that I have no clue what she means by “inherently Pavlovian quality”……
“I do like a light, easy-drinking wine. Also wines which feel very clean, um, and actually make your whole body feel good, after numerous glasses, is a really tell-tale sign for me, and the absence of that coined sugar and sweetness, really contributes to that really beautiful clean ability to enjoy it without feeling heavy.“
In contrast, I’m going to be short and simple. I want my grapes to be pressed, not peeled. I don’t want a wine that has been stripped of all its character. If I wanted something so healthy and virtuous, I would pour myself a glass of water or almond milk or whatever it is Californians are drinking these days.
Am I alone in wanting my wine to taste of grapes?
On a serious note, I feel that what Drew Barrymore is actually trying to convey is her opinion that somehow pale rosé is healthier, tastier and better for you.
Maybe in the US market, this is true. In Europe, it’s certainly not.
I don’t want – and won’t drink – a wine which has been forced to within an inch of its life and then been resuscitated with sulphur and tartaric acid.
This brings me onto the type of rosé that I want to drink.
Cantina Margò (winemaker Carlo Tabarrini)’s Fiero Rosato 2015.
Having been open in my fridge for a couple of days already, it’s lost some of the more subtle aromatics that it had at the beginning. Nevertheless, it has the colour of a blood orange. The nose is an explosion of redcurrants and wild strawberries. Beautifully soft and integrated acidity, it finishes on a slightly salty note which makes it wonderful for pairing with food. It’s a natural wine. It’s vibrant and has tons of character, not a gram of “coined sugar” and gosh, I would happily drink this every day.
I promised you something good at the end of this blog post. Here is Michael McIntyre explaining some real home truths about ordering wine at a restaurant.