Best bottles for brunch, dinner, cocktails

By Dr. Mike Rosenberg

Photo: Suprise your mom on Mother’s Day with a celebratory cocktail, like a Rosénade: rosé, citrus vodka, basil, lemon, simple syrup, and club soda
The time’s come again, folks—Mother’s Day. The day we thank Mom for changing our diapers, wiping our tears, and laying the foundation for all of us to become the lovable lushes that we are. Many of us will be hosting some sort of brunch, lunch, dinner, or drinking jag on some front porch or other.

Anyone can get a bunch of roses for the celebration. I suggest sticking with the pale red color family of wine and snag a bunch of rosés! What says love for your maternal unit like wine, I ask you?

Depending on where you find yourself on Mother’s Day, there’s a bottle of pink goodness that can accompany you.


For Brunch

If you’re doing brunch, you’re going to want bubbly. While I ordinarily recommend Bloody Marys for All Things Brunch, this is a celebration, dammit! Celebrations call for sparkly things. And if you’re feeling really, really classy (and don’t mind paying through the nose), you could snag a bottle of Charles Heidsieck Champagne Rosé Réserve.

This rosy bottle from “Champagne Charlie” is a blend of pinot noir, chardonnay, and pinot meunier. This lovely, fruity sipper packs a load of flavor. Strawberries and a little bit of baking spice start the nose. The bubbles are soft and velvety, layering a luscious creaminess and lots of berry flavors on the palate. The finish is delicate, creamy, and slightly tart. Truly a lovely wine, one that carries a special occasion price tag of $70-80.

Now, if you don’t want to go full-on wallet-busting but would still like to have the benefit of a bubbly brunch, you could go with a less expensive domestic alternative. One suggestion might be the Mumm Napa Brut Rosé from California. The distinctive delicacy and creaminess of champagne may be missing, but many of the same flavors are there—although they lean more toward cherry than strawberry. Still a lovely bottle of bubbles—one you can find for $20-25.


For Dinner

If an evening meal is on your agenda, especially if you’re visiting one of your local dining establishments, everyone around the table might want something different. To limit any potential for familial disagreement, when the wine list comes around I recommend that you consider a full-bodied rosé for the table. While rosé is often considered a delicate drink, many are now built with firmer fruit backbones to stand up to broader ranges of cuisine.

So long as Mom’s not insisting on steak au poivre, you certainly could get away with a bottle like the Villa Gemma 2015 Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Rosé. This rosé is made from one of my all-time “just drink it” grapes, Montepulciano d’Abruzzo. (Cerasuolo is the town near where the grapes are sourced.) It’s considerably darker in hue than most rosés. In the bottle, the wine could easily be confused for a lighter red, like a Chianti. It pours bright ruby red with a medium weight body and flavors of cranberry and cherry. Despite the fruitiness, it’s quite dry and somewhat acidic on the finish, which would make it practically ideal for a varied table ($12).


For Cocktails

Several months back, I mentioned a rosé shortage because of the huge uptick in the wine’s popularity over the last few years. Wine supplies (other than high-end, limited production wines) tend to trail a couple of years behind consumer demand. Some rosé producers may have overshot a bit when it comes to the most recent vintage—with some advantages for the wine consumer.

In the wine stores I frequent, I keep running into very decent bottles of French rosé—often Provence rosé, which can be quite pricey—for $6-8. If you’ve gone to the store and rightfully stocked up, you know that dry rosé is actually a pretty good choice for a cocktail mixer, usually somewhat acidic, with low sugar content, light body, and those soft fruit notes that perk up mixed drinks. With that in mind, here are a couple of potential recipes you can use to surprise Dear Mum:



5 oz. glass rosé; 1 oz. citrus vodka; 2 basil leaves, ripped; lemon wedge; ½ oz. simple syrup; 1 ½ club soda

Muddle basil, lemon, and syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and add vodka and wine. Stir, then pour into glasses. Top with club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.


Rosé Bouquet

3 oz. rosé; 1 ½ oz. gin; ¾ oz. Lillet; 3 oz. red grapefruit juice; sprig of rosemary

Fill a lowball glass ¾ with ice. Add ingredients in order. Stir. Garnish with rosemary and a wedge of grapefruit.


Pink Glow

5 oz. rosé (use a full-flavored one); 2 oz. bourbon; 1 oz. orange juice

Add to a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain into martini glasses and garnish with an orange wedge.


The Mosé

2 strawberries, sliced; 1 tsp. sugar; 2 oz. white tequila; 1 oz. fresh lemon juice; 2 oz. dry rosé

Muddle strawberries and sugar in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and other ingredients. Shake well. Pour into a rocks glass.

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Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Rosenberg at or visit his blog at

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