Just to be clear, I’ve never been a fan of the color pink. I’m sure the reasons are complicated, but the upshot this time of year is that my heart is warmed more by red than by pink on Valentine’s Day—except when it comes to what’s in my glass. While there have been terrific versions of pink wine for many, many years (in the Old World especially), rosé has evolved more recently as a genre, both in real quality and in reputation, convincing me that pink is a very good color for wine to be. Add in bubbles, and I concede you have the perfect sip for Valentine’s Day.
So my search for the just the right bottle this year was a romp through some pretty terrific sparkling rosés. And while Champagne in no way has a lock on delicious pink bubbly, there’s something about the bright pops of fruit it delivers against a chalky mineral backdrop that’s especially mood-brightening and inspiring (whatever it is you need inspiration for that day). And, in fact, Champagne is where I found my perfect bottle: Krug Rosé 25ème Edition.
This singular wine marks the 25th time the fifth generation of the House of Krug has created a unique rosé, as they’ve elevated the category. Head winemaker Julie Cavil, appointed in 2019 as only the seventh Chef de Cave in the history of the house, describes the rosé in terms of their “dream…unexpected, bold and elegant.” And for any given edition, the process of identifying micro lots and blending for the unique house style sounds arduous: “As I audition the 250 wines and 150 reserve wines of the year (!),” says Cavil (exclamation mine), “the challenge in creating Krug Rosé is identifying those plots’ wines that will together create a broad palette of fruit expressions with the boldness so characteristic of this Champagne.” For the record, the 25th Edition includes 28 wines from five different years—the youngest being 2013, the oldest 2008 (which was a terrific vintage). The blend is 45 percent Pinot Noir (11 of which was traditionally macerated for a lift of weight, energy, spice, color and structure), 30 percent Chardonnay and 25 percent Pinot Meunier, the whole having spent seven years on the lees in Krug’s cellars.
The wine—an elegant, saturated salmon color—offers up fragrant aromas of strawberry, dried cranberry and grapefruit with lovely river stone currents running underneath. Practically jubilant bubbles carry a rush of bright, spicy red fruit—raspberry, red apple skin—layered with honeyed citrus, dried apricot and a hint of almond. There’s intensity here that lingers long on a dry finish, edged with a lovely hint of salinity like a gentle ocean wave.
This is not the bubbly for Valentine’s sweets. This is the Champagne, says Cavil, “for bold gastronomic pairings … a wonderful time to be adventurous on the plate. Krug Rosé creates food harmonies where one would never expect to see a rosé Champagne, alongside earthy dishes or game. A perfect tango with savory dishes, it dares to replace a good red wine at the table with brio.” A good thing, too, because when the duck or venison or spicy beef is swept away and the chocolate decadence comes around, there will be nothing left in the bottle.