Find out what's been happening in the world of 42 Burners, aka our test kitchen, with our weekly series.
Rosé might be nicknamed summer water, but the 42 Burners team is getting an early start this year and using it to toast spring instead. Moët & Chandon winemaker Marie-Christine Osselin recently hosted a rosé Champagne tasting in the test kitchen, taking the food editors through four very different wines: their flagship Imperial Rosé, 2009 Grand Vintage Rosé, Nectar Impérial Rosé, and Ice Impérial Rosé.
Osselin explained that Champagne should be treated like a still wine when tasting—put your nose on the glass then run it through your mouth. She encouraged everyone to zero in on the effervescence, to feel the size of the bubbles and judge the texture of the wine. When pairing rosé Champagne with food, it’s important to consider the sweetness of the wine. “You have to link the level of sugar in your dish to the level of sugar in your wine in order to reveal its fruitiness and floral aroma. In the U.S., desserts are often paired with any Champagne, which makes sense for a demi sec like the Nectar Impérial but not a brut or extra-brut,” says Osselin.
The most surprising offering was definitely the Ice Impérial Rosé, which is a Champagne that’s made to be enjoyed with ice. Greg’s immediate reaction was “it’s so ladies who lunch,” but apparently lots of people the world over love drinking their rosé on the rocks (Osselin assured us it’s even happening in the most chic of cities, Paris). If you add ice to a regular glass of rosé Champagne, you lose all the aromas and completely change the product, so Moët & Chandon came up with one “that’s perfectly disbalanced until you add ice—you finish the blending and create harmony in your glass." You can even garnish with fresh fruit or herbs to enhance a sensation you like in your wine, such as mint for freshness or strawberries for a red fruit expression. The 42 Burners favorite was a slice of grapefruit, which added a welcome bitter note.
Adding ice isn’t the only novelty happening in the rosé space: the popularity of the pink wine has given rise to rosé in cans (think rosé meets sparkling water), rosé cider, and even rosé gin, vodka, and tequila. The test kitchen recently held a tasting and were surprised by how little each product resembled the wine that inspired it, other than the hue. But that didn’t mean they weren’t enjoyable in their own right.
Shacksbury's pleasantly tart canned rosé cider, which is aged on local Vermont Marquette grape skins for two months after fermentation, would be great for outdoor entertaining. Another highlight was Wolffer Estate’s gin, which has a sweet fruitiness that Riley and Lindsay thought would pair well with elderflower, either in tonic water or liqueur form (perhaps in our St. Germain, Gin, and Plum Cocktail?). It seems that summer water in all its incarnations is poised to have its biggest season yet!
Watch Thomas demonstrate the fastest way to chill Champagne: