By Alan Bennett
Editor’s Note: “Through the Grapevine” is a semi-regular wine review where I discuss all things on the topic of different affordable wines.
“Oh no, I’m turning into my mother,” I thought, as I stood in the store holding a bottle of pink wine.
And not just any pink wine, no. This bottle was fuschia. Normally I would walk past bottles that remind me of the porchlights of the Red Light District. However, I figured that, at this point, I’ve reviewed both a white and a red, so I should cover all my bases. I swallowed my pride and purchased a bottle of Broadbent vinho verde rose.
Vinho verde is unique. Most wines are named after their respective grape varietals — cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, riesling — but vinho verde is not a grape varietal. Rather, the style of wine known as vinho verde comes from a region of the same name in northwest Portugal, and the grapes used in the wine may vary. The wine’s name translates from Portuguese to “green wine,” or “young wine,” for its grapes are typically harvested early. Most vinho verdes are light, crisp, fruity and low in alcohol, thanks to their early harvest.
This wine has deep familial connections. The wine’s beautiful label is adorned with a bright red, painted rose against a white backdrop. The back label says the rose was painted by the importer, Bartholomew Broadbent’s, niece, Alice — a reminder of how deeply cultural wine can be.
But wine can also be deeply deceptive. Opening the bottle — a twist-off, bless their souls — an overwhelming aroma of honey and florals reminiscent of springtime flowers, which is beyond off-putting (and completely inappropriate) in November, hits the nose. At first whiff, it is assumed this wine will be cloyingly sweet.
And sweet it was, with dominant flavors of strawberries and lemons taking precedence. A much-welcomed tartness of apples cuts through the saccharine complexion, but not nearly enough to balance the glass.
Many vinho verdes are characterized by a light effervescence, as the sugar from the young grapes continues to ferment in the bottle. This numbs the sweetness as well and provides palatable interest, but this enjoyable quality fades the longer the glass sits out. Most vinho verdes possess an acidity because of the early-harvested grapes, as well, but this is also not apparent in Broadbent’s rose.
Mostly, the wine lacks body. It’s incredibly light, a desirable quality in some instances, but lacks a significant mouthfeel. In my review of Gnarly Head’s cabernet sauvignon, I mentioned that wine lacked solid tannins but retained its strength. Broadbent’s vinho verde rose, on the other hand, does in fact taste like grape juice.
It’s hard to find food to pair well with a wine like this. A wine this sweet requires salt and umami flavors in addition to lighter fare. Pair with smoked fish, like salmon; light pastas with vegetables and citrus; good parmesan cheese; and Asian dishes.
This wine’s biggest fault is its lack of personality. With this wine it’s almost as if the first date was okay, but just okay, and you can’t envision a second. I couldn’t talk with this wine; the conversation was forced. And, although I truly want to see myself pouring a glass of this rose, turning on reruns of “Sex and the City” and asking myself if I’m a Carrie or a Samantha, I likely won’t be anytime soon.
Broadbent vinho verde rose is available at The Store Ampersand in Orono for $8.99 for a 750-milliliter bottle. If you enjoy sweet wines, this is the one for you. If you don’t, then keep shopping.