From raffia-flask Chianti to Sangiovese Rose, we’ve come a long way

Long-in-the-toothers like me remember fondly the cheap, sturdy, delicious — and ubiquitous — Chiantis in the student hangouts around campus. We didn’t know it was based on Sangiovese and wouldn’t have cared. We just loved the bottle in a basket.

Now we want our Chianti marked “Classico,” made as back then: Sangiovese, but prime quality, with a couple squirts of other officially-approved Tuscan varieties, including a white, in the bottle.

We’re beginning — at last — to notice Sangiovese Rose, now that we are realizing “rose” isn’t just any old red and white thrown together. We’re getting to like it. Love it, even.

Sonoma County, California, grows wonderful Sangiovese and, after a slow start, it’s selling well as a round, full red wine.

Here John Hart produces Hart’s Desire Sangiovese Rose in the Alexander Valley. It’s his 2012 offering I’m tasting today — a deep pink coral beauty, dry, round, silky-citric with sensuous if vaguely mysterious fruit and even vegetal flavors and a long aftertaste that pleads for another glass with pork or chicken or . . . by itself. (I think it doesn’t pair well with spicy dishes, even though full-red Sangiovese does.)

Judy masterminded a Valentine’s cabaret at church and brought back the remainder of a couple of bottles of donated wines. The Hart’s Desire was nearly empty. Employing a non-statistical, unscientific measurement of how well it was received (by people who probably aren’t yet fully into the world of “real” rose), I judge it to have been tried-and-enjoyed.

[The technique I’m referring to (I’m sure you’re dying to know) is taught in college classes as an “unintrusive measure.” If people return for seconds, and suggest others try it, they like it. There weren’t a lot of wine consumers at this cabaret, so peeking at the bottles was a good sneaky easy to conduct “unobtrusive” test. There. Aren’t you glad you read The Fearless Taster?] — Bob Cramer, .