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Roses are Red but RosÚs are for Valentine's Day

Saturday - 2/11/2012, 10:31am  ET

Scott Greenberg, special to wtop.com

This Valentine's Day, there is no better wine to celebrate new love with - or the love you already share with someone - than with a bottle of bubbly. But not just any sparkling wine - for the day named in honor of a young Roman priest, Valentine of Rome, who was martyred for secretly preforming wedding ceremonies during a ban in 269 AD, one should chose a special wine that adds color as well as style for this year's day of love.

Sparkling rosÚ wines are just what Cupid ordered.

RosÚ wines are not a specific varietal, but rather they are a style of wine.

Traditional red wines get their color from lengthy contact between the juice and the red grape skins. The longer they stay in contact, the more color the skins impart to the juice.

But rose wines are made by removing the skins soon after the grapes are crushed, thus imparting a lighter shade of red to the final wine.

Many different wine grapes lend themselves to rosÚ production. The most popular is pinot noir, but other varietals include grenache, syrah, sangiovese and even malbec.

And just like the ubiquitous nature of love, sparkling rosÚ wines can be found in just about every wine grape growing in the world. Best of all, many sparkling rosÚs are a relative bargain and can be found in plentiful supply.

One of the best values for a sparkling rosÚ is the non-vintage Cristalino Brut RosÚ Cava from Spain. Made from roughly equal parts pinot noir and trepat (a grape varietal indigenous to the region), it sports beautiful scents of wild red berries and cherry on the nose. Fresh, clean strawberry and cherry flavors are light and bright in the mouth, with just a touch of ginger on the crisp, clean finish. $8

The Piedmont region of Italy is best known for their prized Barolo and Barbaresco wines, but it is also home to the non-vintage Banfi Rosa Regale. Made from the brachetto grape, the wine displays vibrant scents of floral notes, such as rose petals and violets on the nose. Flavors of raspberries and red strawberries are supported by a slightly sweet frame. Given the off-dry nature of the wine, it is an ideal choice to enjoy with chocolate covered strawberries and other chocolate-centric desserts. $19

Champagne is not the only part of France to produce sparkling wines. The non-vintage Chevalier RosÚ Cremant Bourgogne hails from the renowned Burgundy region, where chardonnay and pinot noir grapes are used to produce a delicately fresh wine, with refreshing scents of red fruit aromas on the nose. Flavors of strawberry, red currant and nectarine are supported by tiny, delicate bubbles. The creamy texture is in balance with pleasant acidity. $20

If you want a domestic sparkler with a Champagne pedigree, try the non-vintage Roederer Estate Brut RosÚ from Anderson Valley, Calif. The cool climate of Anderson Valley is ideal for growing the chardonnay and pinot noir grapes used in this lively rosÚ. Pretty red fruit aromas of summer raspberries, red currants and cherries are repeated on the equally fruit-driven palate, ending with notes of brioche on the balanced finish. $27

For a special treat, pop open a bottle of non-vintage Jacquart Rose, an authentic Champagne from Reims, France. The nose is wonderfully fruity, featuring strawberry and dark cherry notes. The mouthfeel is elegant and refined, where finely tuned bubbles carry flavors of cherry, raspberry and grenadine over the entire palate. The finish is crisp, dry and refreshing. Versatile enough to enjoy with sushi, pizza or fruit tart. $40

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