There is no such thing as a girly drink. With all our gender sensitivity and awareness these days, you’d think this would be second nature, but the idea still persists in the world of beer wine and cocktails. Let me illustrate for you a common scenario that most any bartender can relate to: a man walks in wearing a suit and tie, and sporting a full beard. We’ll call him Chuck. He is with three male friends, or perhaps business associates since we’re talking about men here—not women who are all at home taking care of families. They all start looking over the menu while discussing, sports, cars, supermodels, or explosions. His first friend orders a beer. Budweiser, in a bottle. The second friend orders a vodka soda, extra lime. The third orders a whiskey and ginger ale, tall. Then finally, our guy orders a Manhattan. Chuck’s Manhattan is placed on the bar in front him. The first friend snickers a bit but quiets down. The second friend is a bit more bold; he laughs out loud. The third is prepared to go one step further and asks if that drink is served with a tampon. You see the problem here is that the Manhattan was served in a coupe, the traditional glass for a Manhattan. Although chuck’s drink contains far more booze, than any of the others (he can handle it, he’s a man) the stemmed glassware it is served in, and the fact that it is not served over ice, just wont do. Chuck gives in and asks for his drink over ice in a double Old Fashioned glass. Come on, Chuck. Are we that afraid of being perceived as feminine? Even if the idea that any drink, whether sweet, sour, boozy, or diluted, is “girly” were true, who cares? Is that the drink you want? Then drink it. Serve it in a pair of four-inch pumps for all I care.
For Chuck, the idea of drinking even a strong “manly” whiskey drink like a Manhattan out of a dainty stemmed glass like a coupe, is rather embarrassing. I’m not sure if the legend that the coupe was designed to mimic the shape of Marie Antoinette’s breast would help or hurt Chucks sense of manliness, but it doesn’t matter, because it is after all just a legend, and probably false. While the stories detailing the origins of our glassware could certainly draw some skepticism, there is one famous myth that still dominates our ideas about gender, well beyond the world of drinks: pink is for girls.
Today pink drinks usually come in two forms. In the cocktail world, the most likely candidate is a Cosmopolitan. I don’t particularly like the drink all that much. That being said, it is a balanced cocktail, and when made correctly could be enjoyed by either a group of sexually liberated strong, fun-loving professional women living in New York City, or a group of men seeking refreshment after a long day of chopping wood in the forest. In the world of wine however, we find rosé, and I’m here to tell you that you can pry my glass of rosé from my cold, dead, calloused, manly hands.
Years ago when I was working at Basi Italia and beginning to learn more about wine in the process, I encountered a bumper sticker stuck somewhere in the kitchen that intrigued me. In both white and pink letters set on a black background it read “YES YOU CAN DRINK ROSÉ AND STILL BE A BAD ASS.” This was part of the marketing campaign of Washington state’s own Charles & Charles, makers of a great low priced rosé, as well as a number of other wines. At the time I had no idea what rosé really was, and perhaps like many of you reading this, I had a lot of false ideas about what pink wine meant. So lets go over these myths one by one, in hopes that you can transform—like a butterfly, or a badass transformer—from a Chuck to a Charles.
Rosé is sweet. This is a big one. When Americans see pink wine, many of them assume it is white zinfandel. White zin’s rise to popularity throughout the ’70s, when it was first sold by Sutter Home, can be thanked for this misconception. While white zin is a type of rosé wine, it is considerably sweeter than most, typically with three-to-five grams of residual sugar. This is a pretty big departure from the mostly dry rosé produced throughout the world.
Rosé is a blend of red and white wine. You’ve had a glass of pinot grigio, right? Do me a favor. Go on your computer and do a Google image search for “pinot grigio grapes.” Look at all those colors. From green to gray to red to purple to black, there are many colors that these grapes can display, and yet the wine they produce is considered “white wine.” This is because the color of your wine has to do with how long the skins of the grapes are allowed to macerate with the crushed grapes, or “must,” as it is known. White zinfandel and red zinfandel are made with the same grapes. Rosé can come in a variety of shades, from orange to light pink, to salmon, to deep ruby red, and it has nothing to do with blending wines.
Rosé is all from the same country and the same grapes. In Spain, rosé is referred to as rosado. The Spanish rosado is typically made from grenache, graciano, tempranillo, and other grape varieties. The Portuguese vhino verde rosé is lightly effervescent and made from azal tinto, barraçal, and vinhao grapes. It is also what I am drinking as I write this. In Italy, it’s known as rosato. Depending on what region of Italy it is from, the style and grapes change dramatically. Try them all. It’s good for you.
Rosé is girly. If you still buy into this myth that rosé or any pink drink is girly, then perhaps you are beyond helping. If the Charles & Charles bumper sticker didn’t convince you, or the story about insecure Chuck didn’t help, then I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll just drink all the rosé for you. If you insist that some things are for men, and some are for women, then as a last ditch effort I guess I can try to play into your worldview. It is said that if given the choice, Ernest Hemingway, the heavy drinking, big-game hunting, lover of all things sport-related, writer who would totally kick your ass, drank Tavel rosé in mass quantities. So put that in your manly pipe and smoke it.