A not-too-sweet rosé

Something To Wine About: Kristy Aurand

Rarely do I fit the profile of "wine snob."

I have preferences and enjoy some varietals more than others, but I try not to turn up my nose at wines I know others enjoy.

Except when it comes to white zinfandel.

White zin is a pink wine that falls in the "blush" category. It's sweet, it's syrupy, and it was my wine of choice … when I was a 21-year-old. For some good reasons, including its lack of complexity and balance, it owns a stigma as a wine for unrefined palates, and it takes all pink wines down with it.

But Kim Waltz of Waltz Vineyards in Manheim thinks she has a product that will change the way you think about pink wine.

Waltz Vineyards' award-winning Stiegel Rosé is one of her favorite wines to pour. She said experienced wine drinkers know that good rosés exist -especially in France and Chile - but they don't expect much from United States winemakers.

"When I pull out the bottle, people think it's going to be a sweet blush wine," and they don't want to try it, she said. But after some arm-twisting, they usually give in - and like it.

"I love changing their minds on a United States rosé."

Waltz's husband, Jan, a sixth-generation Manheim farmer and experienced vintner known statewide for his exemplary grapes, first produced his rosé in 2008. The 2011 vintage, which is currently for sale, is a 50/50 mix of cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes.

The Waltzes use a French technique called saignée (French for "bleed") to produce their rosé, which involves bleeding the juice off after only a few hours of contact with the grape skins. The result is a soft color and light, berry flavors.

But don't let the pink hue fool you. The Stiegel Rosé is an off-dry wine with fruity and earthy notes and very little residual sugar. It is as enjoyable as a sipping wine as it is as a food companion.

It can be paired with an appetizer of cheese and fruit, with a spicy or smoky dinner, or with dessert. I'm not a fish eater, but Kim Waltz assured me it is delicious with sushi and wasabi and with oysters on the half shell. I think it's the perfect pairing with turkey, ham and all the fixings at holiday time - and Kim.

The Waltzes currently have nine wines available for purchase, many of which are named to honor the family's Manheim roots, including Old Line Chardonnay (named after Old Line Road, where the farm is located), Baron Red and Stiegel Rosé (both named after Baron Henry William Stiegel, Manheim's founder).

Though the Baron can't enjoy his namesake wine, his descendants can -and do - every year at Zion Lutheran Church's annual Rose Ceremony. To honor a 1772 agreement between the Baron and the church, the Baron's kin are presented each year with a single red rose - payment for the church's land, "leased" to them by the Baron, and a bottle of the Waltzes' rosé.

  • 2011 Stiegel Rosé, $17

Available for tasting at Waltz Vineyards, 1599 Old Line Road, Manheim, or Waltzes' Lititz Wine Shop, 32 East Main Street, Lititz. Visit WaltzVineyards.com for details.

Something to Wine About appears every other Wednesday.