Gut Check loves us some wine. We want a bottle with bang and a bang for our buck, so every week we will visit a local wine shop, where an expert will recommend a good-value wine priced under $15. We'll drink some and tell you whether we want to continue -- because the only time Gut Check has our nose in the air is while we're draining our glass.
Rachel Buehrer was getting ready to teach one of the wildly popular weekly wine courses at the Vino Gallery (4701 McPherson Avenue, Central West End; 314-932-5665) when we walked in, sweaty and grumpy from the St. Louis heat wave. Wine, in all honesty, did not sound appealing at all. Buehrer, the owner and sommelier at Vino Gallery saw (or smelled) our distress and exhaustion and pulled a bottle of bright ruby pink wine from a table in the middle of the shop for us to try.
Long gone are the days when pink wine meant sweet and sticky. The resurgence of rosé-style wines has been strong with many French roses finding a standard place on local wine lists. Cantele's Negroamaro Rosato, however, is a varietal wine from Puglia, Italy. "This is a great rosé-style wine using negroamaro grapes," says Buehrer. "Negroamaro is also used to create big, bold reds that have lots of character but without any of that barn-yardy character you can find in big reds." Cantele is a small producer, just the type of unique, small-scale vineyard that Vino Gallery likes to search out and offer its clientele.
The color of the wine was refreshing just to gaze at. A true gemstone clarity, it poured a clear pinkish berry hue into our glasses. A swirl or two, and we stuck our noses into our glasses where we were hit with intense aromas of strawberry and cherry Twizzlers. "This rose has depth of flavor, with more cherry and strawberry like fruits coming forward rather than a lot of French rosés which often have aromas of watermelon and softer fruits," says Buehrer. Almost forgetting the heat outside, we took a taste. It's a brighter and bigger flavor than many rosés. "This is not a wimpy wine," notes Buehrer. The alcohol content is a solid 13 percent. We take another sip. The finish is clean, and Buehrer suggests this with summer dining staples: "Grilled items, fish, spicy Asian food would all go great with this wine. It can stand up to all of those flavors." By the third sip, we've lost the grumpy edge, completely charmed by this lovely Italian stunner. At $11.99 a bottle, it's a wine to enjoy by itself or with a great summer barbecue.