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By The Glass


Wednesday, October 10, 2001

Vin gris wines are food friendly

Some of my favorite wines happen to be a pink. No, I don't mean White Zinfandel or other semi-sweet blush wines. The pink wines I had in mind are off-dry-to-dry with lots of fresh-fruit components, perfect for picnics, lazy afternoons, seaside riverbanks and café tables.

These wines are very food-friendly. Perfect for café enjoyment and café foods. The French usually refer to these as vin gris, or gray wines. Red wines are called noir (black) and white wines are referred to as blanc (white). So wines in between black and a white are gray -- vin gris.

Vin gris wines come in many styles, some hearty and rustic, others quite the opposite -- wonderfully light and airy. Choosing one will depend on the style you like or the kind of food you are having.

For Hawaii's climate and our Pacific Rim foods, I look for dry rosés that have lots of fruit, are light in weight and, most important, do not have a bitter finish. Bitterness clashes with the salty and spicy Asian components of our contemporary island cuisine. (By the way, this is also a style that works well with Hawaiian food.)

Take, for instance, one of our signature specialties at Sansei -- the "69" roll -- made with barbequed unagi (fresh water eel) and topped with masago and unagi demi glace. Bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigare 2000 (about $13) is perfect with it! The wine's refreshing edge and exuberant fruit qualities just make the dish taste better. The fresh fruit complements the sweetness and saltiness of the unagi, and offers a crisp, berry-like finish.

There are simpler ways you can try rosés at home:

Try a bottle of the Scherrer Vin Gris 2000 (about $20) from Alexander Valley, or perhaps something from Sicily, Italy -- Regaleali Rosato 1999 -- with some dried akule, or a bowl of oxtail soup.

On a hot afternoon, a well-chilled Nalo Greens salad tossed with Italian vinaigrette is a perfect match with a rosé.

Don't let the thought of pink wines scare you off. You will find there is more to them than just a pretty color!

Ivy Nagayama is corporate manager for Sansei Seafood Restaurant & Sushi Bar. This column is written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.

This column is a weekly lesson in wine
pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
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