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Wine Without Pretense: Love is in the air and rose-colored wine is on the table
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In 10 days, we fall into one of those holidays that must be subsidized by the flower, greeting card and candy companies — St. Valentine’s Day.

Why we are enamored of a day that celebrates an airborne juvenile delinquent with a lethal weapon is beyond me. But since it’s coming, let’s get into the spirit and think pink!

Pink is the traditional hue of St. Valentine’s Day and I have a harmonious quintet of pink wines you can look for to give your celebration a little nudge.

But first: Just because a wine is pink does not mean it is sweet, or even semisweet. These are not your mother’s white zinfandels. All five of these are dry or nearly dry, meaning there is very little sugar in them.

All are good wines to serve with foods such as chicken, seafood such as tuna steaks or salmon, veal, creamy pastas and even pork as long as it’s not in barbecue.

Rosés are made in one of two styles. Some are made as blush wines, such as white zinfandel. The fermenting juice is left in contact with the red grape skins for several hours, at most. That way some of the color and character seeps into the wine. Then the wine is removed from the skins and the pink color remains.

Other rosés are made in the saignee — “bleeding” — method, in which the bulk of the fermenting wine from red grapes actually is destined to become red wine. But partway into the fermentation, some of the wine is bled off to become rosé.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2013

This dark pink beauty comes to us from South Africa, home to all-too-many overlooked fine wines. Mulderbosch has been making good wines for a quarter century.

It’s made from cabernet sauvignon grapes grown specifically for making a rosé. Grapes are picked before full ripeness to ensure good acidity and bright color. Flavors of cherry and a tinge of watermelon make this a satisfying quaff. About $15.

Domaine du Tariquet Rosé de Pressee 2013

Here’s another rosé with big shoulders. It almost comes across as a light red wine. It comes from the Gascony region in southwest France, down near the border with Spain. It uses a grape called tannat, which is common in that area, and which several Georgia winemakers use to make very good red wines. The tannat is blended with merlot and syrah.

This wine is fairly intense, with spice flavors. Great with all but the heartiest of foods. About $18.

Vera Vinho Verde Rosé 2013

What? A rosé Vinho Verde? Portuguese Vinho Verdes are normally white wines; crisp, acidic and best drunk young. The name translates to “green wine” or “young wine.”

This rosé is a first for me. It’s made from two indigenous Portuguese grapes, vinhao and rabo de anho. They are dark-skinned grapes, which explain the wine’s deep, rich color.

This is fuller in body than the other three featured here, meaning it will stand up to heavier food selections. Drink it at the end of the day as a cocktail, or with sushi or pasta dishes. About $14.

Lavau Tavel Rosé 2011

Too many folks look at pink wine and think white zinfandel. Don’t. Good, dry rosés are terrific wines and this is one of them.

From the famed Tavel neighborhood in France’s southern Rhone Valley, this pink charmer is made with three of the best-known regional grapes: grenache, cinsault and syrah.

Being dry, it’s a good food wine for dishes such as cream-based pasta, veal, lightly spiced chicken and grilled tuna steaks. Hints of strawberry highlight the flavors.

Tavel is famous for its rosé wines, and this one will tell you why. About $17.

Folie a Deux Menage a Trois California Rose 2013

Finally, one of my long-term favorites and probably the easiest one to locate. This bright, friendly little rose just never fails to satisfy, either as a sipping wine or with food.

It’s made from a creative blend of merlot, syrah and gewurztraminer. I do believe it’s the presence of the last grape that won my heart. There’s a floral component that is pure gewurztraminer.

Softer than the others, it’s still fun to match with foods. I like it with spicy Asian dishes. About $13.

OK, Cupid, that’s your cue to take flight. And take your bow and arrow with you before somebody gets hurt.

Randall Murray is a Gainesville-area resident. Have a question about wine? He can be contacted at murrwine@aol.com. His column appears on the first Wednesday of the month and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.

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