Beauty and the Bottle

Beauty and the Bottle

The beauty and the beast behind one of the most readily consumed alcoholic beverages in the world. A universal gift given to us by the earth that demands nothing of it’s consumer besides appreciation.

Why wine? What makes this timeless alcoholic drink so intriguing? Well, if you ask me, EVERYTHING about it makes it the most enthralling agricultural product that has ever been grown.

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The Past

According to National Geographic, the first known winery was found in an Armenian Cave near the village of Arnei dating back about 6,100 years. Providing the first “complete archaeological picture of wine production” taken by the researchers at UCLA in 2007. Evidence dating back 7,000 years that links wine chemicals and archaeological proof have been discovered but not a winemaking facility.

The discovery includes what appears to be a grape press and fermentation vessel. Researchers found that the grapes were pressed by foot and the grape juice following pressing was drained into the vessel to undergo fermentation. Traces of ancient grape vines, skins and seeds were also found in the cave.

After testing the clay vessels, they were radiocarbon dated back to 4100 BC. These tests were positive for Malvidin, an anthocyanin pigment that is found in red wine color. This anthocyanin is determinate of the intensity of the red pigment of red wine as well as the potential for oxidation (browning of wine).

Patrick E. McGovern, ancient wine expert and bimolecular archaeologist at the University of Philadelphia Museum and author of Uncorking The Past: The Quest For Beer, Wine and Other Alcoholic Beverages describes the discovery of wine in ancient Georgia being the birthplace of present day Pinot Noir.

Grapes were domesticated thousands of years ago and the early years of its production remains a question researchers are still actively looking to answer. While centuries of human evolution have taken place, grape vines have maintained a steady place in society. 

The Present

In an article written by The Week, analyzing data found by Impact Databank, the United States was the largest wine consuming nation in the year 2013. Wine has been continuously increasing in popularity and sales across the globe. But why?

The wine industry in the United States is changing and adapting to the new consumer. Natural wines, Pét Nat, Orange Wine, chilled Reds, etc. The exploration into the wine world is taking turns and igniting the long lost flame of many ancient winemaking practices to cater to the new wine drinker. Rare varietals are making waves across shelves and wine lists are becoming more creative. Tradition continues to be the infrastructure of the industry but new methods, organic and biodynamic practices and funky flavor profiles are sparking trends around the world.

In my OPINION, the most recent generation that has started working and earning money is becoming increasingly focused on the accessibility and affordability of “luxury goods.” There is a need for grandeur without the bank account to accompany it. Wine has and will continue growing in popularity because it has historically been exclusive to a certain demographic. But here comes an influx of producers, wine shops/bars and the ability to buy a fantastic bottle for cheap. The more diluted the industry, the more access there is for everyone to be welcome in it (producer and consumer side).

Don’t get me wrong. I think the desire for cheap wine is alive and thriving, but I think there will be a need to continue increasing the market share of ones wine knowledge, wine access and palette. There seems to be a patient manifestation within every wine drinker to expand their niche. The peaked interest will eventually send them into the world of fine wine. The industry has provided the affordable training wheels for a new consumer to be involved in the wine world and to continue exploring the industry as we know it now.

The Future

“Millennials are changing the wine industry” – Business Insider

While I may not know what the future holds, no crystal ball yet, I do think that the current generation will continue being the fuel for the fire. The industry needed a fresh perspective to show how strongly it could root into society.

According to Business Insider, Millennials consumed 42% of the wine consumed in the United States in 2015. 42%. 

The future is looking bright for the wine industry and I am here for it. Wine has withstood time beyond the ages of any wine drinker in the market today, it was consumed throughout the timeline of human history. It knows the tales of development and speaks the ageless language of mother nature.

The experience of drinking wine has changed. Consumers are still buying the wine with the best label, but they are also drinking with more purpose. They are analyzing their likes and dislikes while slowly but surely developing a preference for the wine they consume.

Cheap wine, expensive wine, at a restaurant, on your couch, you are drinking history.

Happy sipping and I can’t wait to see where the industry takes us.

 

 

The Happiest Hour

The Happiest Hour

Money can’t buy happiness but it can buy drinks at Happy Hour. We all want to be happy and we all want drink discounts, right? That’s where we get the beautiful creation of happy hour. I’ve drank at my fair share of happy hour’s across the West Coast and it’s about time I created a Master List of my favorite HH in Seattle (more locations to come!!)  While this is specific to a killer wine list on the happy hour menu, these places usually have great cocktails and appetizers no matter what your drink of choice is.

Seattle, Washington

Barolo Ristorante

Downtown Seattle

This chic and tastefully elegant Italian restaurant is one of the Seattle greats. With glistening chandeliers, an outstanding wine list and out of this world pasta and meat dishes. Make a reservation for dinner and enjoy an incredible meal from start to finish. But what is even better is their Happy Hour. My favorite dishes on the bar menu include and ARE NOT limited to: Grilled pacific calamari, Rigatoni pasta with beef and veal ragú and the baked escargot (TO DIE FOR).

HH

Monday-Saturday: 3:00-6:30pm and 10pm-midnight

Sunday: All day starting at 3pm

50% off the bar menu
$5.75 glass select white, red, and rose’
$20 bottle of white, red, and rose’
$5.00 draft beer

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Source: Barolo

Purple Café & Wine Bar 

Downtown Seattle, Bellevue or Woodinville

“Where a global wine list meets seasonal Northwest ingredients” WOW. Talk about my kind of place. Purple is a industrial dream, with impressive metal work in all locations highlighting the dark and mysterious ambiance. With a never ending hand selected wine list that feels like a well written novel paired with exquisite and perfectly prepared dishes. Don’t you dare leave without trying the sea salt caramels. They taste like true love. What else to try: Warm baked brie, Crispy lemon-chile calamari and I usually always try the Washington wine featured on the menu. Currently: Lu & Oly Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, WA.

HH

Daily 2-5pm

Happy Hour menu includes $7.50 glass of featured wine or 40% off listed price of the featured wines by the bottle

Cocktails, Beer & Snacks also listed on HH menu

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Source: OpenTable

Stoneburner

Ballard

Located within Hotel Ballard, Stoneburner has an everlasting sophistication that feels like you landed in the perfect era during a trip through time. With a corner of the restaurant showcasing walls of the incredible wine collection opposite the art deco and classic full service bar. It’s a gem within the urban and artsy streets of Ballard. With a stone hearth focused kitchen, the small plates are served family style for the table. This would be a place to start with wine and finish the night with a masterpiece cocktail. Must try: CRISPY CASTELVETRANO OLIVES stuffed with mozzarella (not on HH menu but WORTH IT), classic pepperoni pizza and the Asti Fizz.

HH

Daily from 3-5pm

Happy hour menu includes salads, pizza, cocktails and WINE FLASKS 500ml flask of white/red/rosé for $10.

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Source: Stoneburner

The Walrus & The Carpenter

Ballard

One of my favorites. My heart feels so full with the incredible memories I have from this place. They are known for their oysters (YUM) and seafood. They are an enchanting and eclectic spot in Ballard that provides an oasis in the city for sea lovers and wine lovers alike! The interior design is warm and incredibly darling. As Total Happy Hour describes, “The Walrus and the Carpenter blends the elegance of France with the casual comfort of a local fishing pub.” With a hand selected and unique wine list that pairs perfectly with the sea fare, this is the perfect place to spend your evening.

HH

Oyster Happy Hour Monday-Thursday 4-6pm

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Source: The Walrus and The Carpenter

Of course, there are many more incredible places for HH in Seattle, but these places have my heart and will forever be in my brain bank of some of my favorite places in my hometown. What is your favorite place for HH in Seattle?

Money can't buy happiness, but it can buy drinks at Happy Hour (1)

Happy sipping!

Napa? Never heard of her

Napa? Never heard of her

Have you ever heard of a place with endless vineyards, hot air balloons and tons of grapes that sell for some of the highest prices in California? Surely you have never heard of such a place!

NOT.

Napa oh, Napa. The crown jewel of California wine country. A little bit North of Napa is Calistoga, home of Chateau Montelena from Bottleshock, Chris Pine playing Bo Barrett is on my list of top 10 favorite casting decisions. Napa is the birthplace of California Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay. Think BIG, BOLD and OAKY. Napa, California has over 400 wineries and counting. But with so many choices, how do choose?! While I have not been to all 400 wineries (that would be concerning), I do have a few favorites and classics that are a must see! Taste a little, explore a little and eat a lot. Enjoy!

Ashes & Diamonds

If you follow me on Instagram you know about my love affair with Ashes & Diamonds. We are talking LOVE AFFAIR. With an art deco, Palm Springs-esque tasting room right off St Helena highway. Yellow doors, incredible natural light and an open air winery that you can walk through. They have homemade foccacia bread served with salted butter and a tasting menu that navigates you through the different varietals that they have at the winery. The A&D Cabernet Franc is my favorite. Cab Franc is a spicy, flirty and smooth parent varietal of Cabernet Sauvignon. Reserve a tasting and consider joining the wine club! They have incredible events that take place at the tasting room that you won’t want to miss.

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51EA171D-A357-4581-AE8F-1F4E30C54EB9.JPGP.S. I am a SUCKER for good glassware. A&D wine glasses have been some of the most impressive in Napa! Make sure to take a second and admire the little things!

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Restoration Hardware – Wine Vault

Yountville, I love you. Yountville is quite possibly one of my favorite areas in the Napa Valley. With some of Northern California’s most impeccable culinary scenes, the tasting rooms step up to the plate. My favorite tasting room/wine bar in Napa is the Restoration Hardware Wine Vault. As an interior design and furniture company, RH has revolutionized “good taste” and developed a such a pristine vision on what beauty is. The wine vault that is in a historic ma(i)sonry building and right next door to the RH restaurant that embodies luxury and elegance. With a wine menu consisting of a variety of winemakers and vineyards around the area, this tasting room represents many different facets of the wine culture in the area. The variety allows for the wine taster to explore their palette. Make a reservation and ENJOY!

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The Hess Collection Winery

Oh, an art museum AND tasting room? What more could you want. Housed in a modern and reconstructed barn, the Hess Collection wines are from elevated vineyards on Mount Vedeer in the Napa Valley. When founding the winery, Donald Hess curated his own art collection and showcases it to the visitors trying the historic and iconic California wines. Reserve your tasting and be sure to see all three floors of the collection. His eclectic art and traditional winemaking processes mark one of my favorite wineries in Northern California. 8F3E81CD-D500-46C7-BE4B-C4542D9E939E.JPG

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What are your favorite tasting rooms in Napa? Comment them below!

Screw Off

Screw Off

I’m laughing. An overly aggressive post name had to be done for the topic of twist off wine caps. While you may think twist offs are only for cheap wines, they do have a stronghold in the consumer market. Allowing for fast open and consume, as well as, close and save for later wine drinking experience.

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I’ll set the scene. Hot summer day in Hope Ranch, California. A neighborhood in Santa Barbara, streets lined with palm trees and gates to driveways that deny any snooping of the mansion inside. Having the ability to twist off the cap of the wine bottle was more convenient, we would all agree. You’re greasy, thirsty and ready for rosé. But what is all the fuss?

 

Rosé for the day: Edna Valley Vineyard, California, Rosé

Corks vs Screw Caps

Corks can be problematic. The most common problem seen with a bottle of wine that was sealed with a cork is cork taint. Wine is supposed to smell fresh, fruity and powerful. It should not smell like mildew, cardboard and old laundry.

Fun fact: When a sommelier or wine focused restaurant gives you a taste of the wine after they open it at your table, you are supposed to smell and taste it to make sure there are no defaults. This is NOT to see if you like the wine or not. Defaults can be identified by aromas. These defaults could be Cork Taint from TCA (mildew, old damp laundry), Ethyl Acetate (vinegar or nail polish remover), Hydrogen Sulfide (rotten eggs).

From the Winc blog, a wine start-up that “creates and curates over a hundred wines” straight to your door, Nikki Michaels describes cork taint in a way that’s easy for all wine drinking backgrounds to understand. Natural corks have the potential of becoming contaminated by 2,4,6 -trichloroanisole. This chemical can infect the cork and over time infect the wine. TCA is not dangerous to consumers, but can alter the aroma and taste of wines by impacting the phenols.

Therefore, avoiding the possibility of cork taint has allowed the rise of screw off caps on wine bottles. According to Wine Folly, screw caps have shown positive aging characteristics when tested over time. The difficult part of screw caps is that they are typically associated with a cheaper quality of wine. Overcoming the stereotype of screw caps will take time, lots of it, but could prove to be something of the future if the ease of opening the bottle becomes more important to the consumer.

 

Why stay with cork usage? According to Earth 911, corks are a Naturally Renewable Resource and 100% biodegradable. They are a limited renewable resource, but cork trees are in fact an environmentally sustainable resource. When making wine corks, layers of the tree can be scraped off without any harm being done to the tree. Learn more at Earth 911 about recycling your wine corks.

While easier to open, if what allows us to close and store the drink of the gods (wine) can come from a place that is better for the environment, screw caps might not be here to stay.

Cheers! Happy sipping!

SPRITZ ME!

SPRITZ ME!

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You know it’s summer when you see an Aperol Spritz being enjoyed by almost everyone in Los Angeles who is above the legal drinking age. They are FRESH, TANGY AND BUBBLY. A triple threat, if I do say so myself. But, what is Aperol and why does everyone love it?

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Source: Aperol

Aperol

Aperol is an Italian aperitivo that was created in the early 1900’s. The Straight Up, a great resource for all cocktail details and background behind our sipping favs, describes the ingredients to be an “infusion of herbs and plants.” These include rhubarb, herbs and other natural ingredients. According to VinePair, the flavor of this bright orange and stunningly consistent maintains a bittersweet orange and herbal undertone. The alcohol content on Aperol is approximately 11%.

HEY LADY CAN I GET A SPRITZ HERE?

I know, I know. What we’ve all been waiting for. The SPRITZ! I imagine using jazz hands every time I say the word Spritz. Cue Napoleon Dynamite.

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The Aperol Spritz is taking Happy Hour menus by storm and cooling down the residents of the current heatwave. An Aperol Spritz, most commonly served in Northeast Italy (before Los Angeles got its paws on it). Similar to Lillet, if you remember my favorite French apéritif:

  • Apéritif (or Aperitivo): An apéritif is an alcoholic drink typically consumed before a meal to stimulate the appetite

Sounds like dessert before dinner, if you ask me. Yes please.

An Aperol Spritz is made with Aperol (I hope you aren’t surprised), Prosecco traditionally, a “dash” of soda water and a slice of orange for decoration (and a snack).

“WHAT MAKES APEROL SPRITZ, APEROL SPRITZ

The orange is unmistakable, a vibrant color which lights up your toasts and adds joy to the moment. Everything else is brought to the table by the inner lighthearted spirit of the Aperol Spritz: the spirit that makes people spontaneously come together and sparks nothing but good times. This spirit is also unstoppable: it’s hard to hold back from enjoying a toast with friends, one orange sip at a time.”

Aperol

No truer words have ever been spoken.

Delicious, refreshing and absolutely GORGEOUS. You’ll be making all the other cocktails jealous! Cheers and HAPPY SPRITZING!

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Source: Aperol
Understanding a Champagne Diet

Understanding a Champagne Diet

It is assumed that I mean a Champagne diet PAIRED with food, good food. This is not the next keto, whole 30, paleo diet, the title is definitely a joke. Just in case that needed to be explained?

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The Champagne diet is the glitz and glam of the wine world. I am going to help you understand what Champagne is, where it is made, a little history lesson, and some buying tips. I hope I am not the only person who instantly remembers Jay Gatsby holding up his, obviously vintage crystal, glass of champagne at his unbelievably incredible estate full of the 20’s elite. The Lana Del Rey montage throughout the entire Great Gatsby (2013) adaptation still gives me goosebumps. WHO KNEW we all needed to hear an entire film score of Young and Beautiful. Lana embodied the relentless hope and passion that Jay felt towards Daisy. A film we will be adding to Wine & Watch, let’s say with a bottle of Veuve? Yes, please.

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Source: IndieWire

Let’s set the scene. According to Le Comité Champagne, it was 496 AD in Champagne. In Northern region of France, Champagne was producing wines with the utmost elegance and prestige. The bubbles crafted from the Champagne region were from vineyards controlled and owned mostly by the monasteries of the area and following it’s creation, Champagne exploded like fireworks within the circles of French royalty. As wine is for the gods and goddesses, Champagne is the beverage of kings and queens. 

“It became the practice to offer Champagne wines to any royal visitors to the region. Francis I, King of France, and Mary Queen of Scots both left Reims with several casks of the local wines. Louis XIV, was apparently presented with hundreds of pints of wine on the occasion of his coronation in Reims.” – From Vine to Wine, Comité Champagne 

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Source: WriteOpinions

The Appellation of Champagne permits the growth of only the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grape varietals. The terroir of the region is where the beauty comes from.

ter·roir

/terˈwär/

noun

the complete natural environment in which a particular wine is produced, including factors such as the soil, topography, and climate.

The terroir of the region is the sole contributor to the complexity and unique sensory that the Champagne winemaking process brings to life. The soil, climate and geography of each vineyard play their part in the Gatsby-esque production of these special bubbles. The winemaking process of Champagne is a natural primary fermentation, meaning there is no yeast added (in the beginning) to initiate primary fermentation. The yeast that is a resident to the grapes and the sugar filled grapes will produce the alcohol in the finished wine.

Le Méthode Champenoise or Traditionelle, is a process of a multi-fermentation process involving a secondary fermentation after bottling to create that results in carbon dioxide and “bubbles.” This secondary fermentation is encouraged using the addition of a tirage, sugar and yeast, to newly bottled wine.

The only wine that can be labeled Champagne, must be grown and produced in the Champagne region of France. All other wines with bubbles are region specific and can typically referred to as Sparkling wines. Italy’s sparkling wine is Prosecco. Spain’s sparkling wine is Cava. More posts to come about those!

If you want to learn more about Champagne, Le Comité Champagne is a spectacular resource, in English, to learn all your heart desires about this wonderful wine!

Now. Let’s talk shelf selection.

You are looking to buy a Champagne to “celebrate” or maybe it’s just a Sunday? Buying sparkling wine, or Cook’s “California Champagne,” can suffice if you are hoping to make your own bottomless mimosas. But I do recommend indulging in a classique French Champagne, personally I love Veuve Clicquot. It’s a median budget, decadent and wonderful choice. Also – follow their instagram, they have great branding. Maybe even taste Cooks and Veuve side by side? There is NO judgement for buying a bottle of wine, on my blog at least, but what I do recommend is understanding and appreciating the difference. NOW, go and pop some champagne. I hope it makes you feel young & beautiful. 

What is your favorite Champagne? Any recommendations? Cheers!

 

 

 

 

Drinking Rosé in December

Drinking Rosé in December

Oh, the holidays. Christmas Eve is tomorrow and I have in fact started in on a bottle of rosé. Sitting next to the Christmas tree with the fire ablaze, Seahawks game on mute with Micheal Bublé playing in the background while I am drinking pink. It’s dumping rain outside, welcome to winter in Washington. It may seem confusing, as the normal narrative is to drink rosé in the summer. But the heart wants what it wants! If you want rosé the night before Christmas eve, why not! I am here to give you my two rosé’s to drink THIS WINTER. A bold and chatty red wine will be your main course for the season, but at 4:00pm on Christmas Eve Eve, a rosé sounds quite nice! Wherever you are, put on your snow boots or flip flops depending on the current weather and grab a bottle of rosé for your next holiday party.

Go-To Winter Rosé:

Côte des Roses 2017, Gérard Bertrand

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Source: White Horse Wine and Spirits

The best of the best! This is my favorite rosé. With a bottle with breathtaking detail, affordable price tag and enjoyable dry taste, it’s a must have. It’s fresh, light and upholds flavors of peach, lemon and honeysuckle. Some may call it collecting trash, or “hoarding” but I do save (and clean) the bottles. The beautiful rose detail on the bottom of the bottle does not belong in the trash can. I’ve wanted to make candles out of it for years, but yet no candle in sight and ten empty bottles in my closet. A thing of beauty, a drink of grace, a delicious drink for the holiday season. Pair it with peppermint bark or a red velvet cupcake and you’ve got a great pre-holiday party snack.

How’s it made? Well I thought you would never ask!

Cote des Roses is made in the Languedoc region of France. Famously known for the Pont de Gard. A famous roman aqueduct used to bring water to the French city of Nîmes. Still standing to this day and now a famous tourist destination. The famous grape varietals found in this region include but are not limited to; Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. This work of art from the winery and estate of Gérard Bertrand, as per the website, is grown in a semi-Mediterranean climate. The red varieties used in this rosé are Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Rosé is typically made from red grape varieties that have minimal skin contact before fermentation. Stay tuned for a post entirely on rosé!

Where to buy: Costco!! Buy in bulk and save. World Market. Easy to buy around the country and also available online.

 

The Vincent Rosé 2017, Board Track Racer, Mark Ryan Winery

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Just perfect. A rosé Evel Knievel might even enjoy. My favorite tasting room in the Pacific Northwest. This will be a more difficult wine to acquire if you are not on the West Coast of the United States. But keep yours eyes out. Mark Ryan is changing the Washington Wine World and creating a comfortable and enjoyable wine drinking experience that you could see the Wild Hogs enjoying quite nicely. This Mark Ryan rosé, The Vincent, is a crisp, balanced and tart wine. While perfect for the summer time, it’s a bright and colorful rosé for the winter as well. I would love the take the label and make a t-shirt out of it. It’s a rad rosé and would be great with a garlic and lemon based pasta dish or cheese board. For the holiday season, pair this wine with a holiday meringue or cranberry sauce dish to bring out the berry flavors.

How’s it made?

This Mark Ryan wine is of the Columbia Valley Appellation. In the Southeast of the state of Washington, this is an ever growing wine region. The Columbia Valley grape varietals grown at the highest planting percentage are Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Chardonnay. Being the largest winemaking region of Washington, it’s fairly popular to have wineries within the valley and also tasting rooms within the Greater Seattle Area. The Mark Ryan tasting room that I could rave about until the end of time, is in Woodinville, WA. A thirty minute drive outside of downtown Seattle.

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Source: Sacred Drop

The grape varietals used in The Vincent rosé are Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache. Again, all red grape varieties grown in the Columbia Valley. A delicious and festive drink for the holiday season (and every other season!).

Where to buy: While I just spent the last few paragraphs convincing you to buy this wine, it may not be available anymore. The best bet is to stop by the tasting room to inquire about a new vintage! Some online websites have this wine available as well. Worth the wait and a great introduction to Washington pink wines.

Happy holidays to all! Leave Santa a glass of YOUR favorite rosé to switch it up for him this year. What’s your favorite rosé?