Summer Wine Showdown: Pink vs. Red



I first noticed it a few months ago. Late spring, I guess. At first, I thought people were joking. Maybe ironic. But no, this was a full-fledged trend that had been going on for a while and I just hadn’t noticed it before. Rosé.

As in, people drinking rosé. Because they like it. Apparently, rosé has come a long way from the pink wine of the 1970s — which wasn’t really rosé at all; it was mostly “blush”— but I still associate it with Riunite Lambrusco and Orson Welles (who, it turns out, was a famous filmmaker before he peddled wine on television).

Rosé has regained respect and is consumed by people I know to have good taste. And though I don’t generally like white or pink wines, I decided to give it a try. I armed myself with a number of good recommendations and headed to the liquor store on the way to a party at a friend's house. I selected the Domaine Houchart, which I'm told is quite popular.

The verdict? Thumbs up from my friends, but a thumb down from me. It was dry (as most rosés are), but still a bit too tart and shallow for me. Yes, I know it’s summer, but I still prefer depth to my wine. And unlike (some) others, I drink red wine slightly chilled, at the temperature closer to that of a real wine cellar than that of a Nashville “room temperature.” I don’t drink hot wine. Except in a hot cider drink.

Anyway, Bacchus must’ve been smiling upon me as all this coincided with an offer from the folks at Masi Agricola. Would I like to try their Masi Bonacosta, a light summer wine that’s an alternative to white or rosé? My answer was not yes, but hell yes. Well, technically, it was “of course I’d like to try this wine.”

So, one very good Tuesday morning, I took receipt of my bottle of Masi Bonacosta Valpolicella Classico. A Classico, by the way, typically denotes a wine made from grapes grown in a specific region, its terroir being an important element in taste. The Bonacosta is made from several types of grapes grown in the Valpolicella region.

Masi’s website says Hemingway described Valpolicella Classico as, “a light, dry red wine, as friendly as the house of a favourite brother.” Yes, this is exactly the wine for me. This is a red that’s light but not sweet. And not so dry or bitter that it makes my jaw hurt. I’m looking at you, cheap Merlot.

I opened up my bottle of Bonacosta and poured a glass to warm slightly (from its refrigerated temperature) and to drink while making dinner. I discovered that it’s a great wine for sipping as well as with a light meal. I served it with pasta primavera, but it would be suitable with any light dinner (regardless of protein) as well as with a rich dessert. It’s got hints of cherry and plum and maybe a bit of vanilla without being sweet and instead was rather crisp. And it passed the jaw test, meaning that it was light on tannins. It’s also light on alcohol content, 12 percent by volume. Overall, it was light and smooth. Very enjoyable and versatile.

At $13.99 per bottle (suggested), it’s the same price as the Houchart. Local restaurants that carry Masi Agricola wines include The Palm, Margot Café, and Giovanni. Retail locations include The Wine Chap in Belle Meade, The Wine Shoppe of Green Hills, and Midtown Wine and Spirits.

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