Magazine article Out

Pinky and Perky

Magazine article Out

Pinky and Perky

Article excerpt

The trend toward rosé is now a champagne phenomenon too.

From his deathbed in a Paris hotel room, Oscar Wilde held aloft a glass of champagne and announced, "I am dying as I have lived, beyond my means." A flute of fine bubbly has drawn many good men to splurge and break the budget. This season the extravagance is decidedly rosehued: Pink champagne and sparkling rosé is now the life of the party. Is it something in the air? After all, this was the summer that wine drinkers abandoned reds and whites for rosé. Now the trend seems to be spilling over into champagne.

"All of a sudden a lot of people are asking about sparkling roses," says Cynthia Sexton, wine buyer for Chelsea Wine Vault in New York City. One enthusiast is Geoffrey Zakarian, chef-owner of Country, a New York City restaurant with an elegant champagne lounge. "I'm a real nut about champagne, and I love rosé champagne in particular," he says. "It's extremely festive any time of year, but especially during the holidays."

Ever a regal drink, wines from Champagne have been associated with nobility since they became the beverage of choice for coronation ceremonies in Reims. The technique for re-fermenting wines in the bottle, which gives them their sparkle, was perfected in part by the 17th-century French monk Dom Pérignon. "Come quickly-I am drinking the stars!" he is said to have told the abbots at Hautvillers. But when bottles began to explode in the basement, they feared it was the work of the devil.

Classic champagne is made from a combination of three grapes: chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier. They are cool-weather grapes that are high in acid, and the acid structure is what ages and preserves the wine.

Rosé champagne and sparkling wine is the result of additional pinot noir juice blended in for the second fermentation. The best rosés pair well not only with berries and sweet desserts but with savory dishes. "A rosé like Billecart is great with a little tart or quiche, or even some egg on toast with an anchovy, because it cuts through the salt and fat but doesn't overpower the food," says Mark Gordon, executive chef of Terzo in San Francisco.

Bottles should be stored in a cool, dark place at a constant temperature of 54-59 degrees, then chilled to about 40 degrees before serving: "Cold, but not so cold that you feel like you're drinking out of a frosted mug," says Zakarian. …

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