I asked Diane Gross a series of stupid questions for the hour I spent with her at Cork. While she walked me through the process of making a rosé, the tastings, the benchmarks of quality and all the in depth decisions that go into producing your own wine… I asked her if the color of the wine really matters*. As she explained the aging on the lees process, I played the novice, because I am one. As much as I enjoy D.C. (and wine in general) I can’t say I know that much about it. I feel very comfortable talking about cocktails and I can hold my own when it comes to beer, but wine is too much. I don’t have enough room in my brain for all that knowledge. Maybe that’s sacrilege for a food writer, but I didn’t train for this job. I fell into it.
Gross and her husband / co-owner Khalid Pitts did not fall into making wine. They’ve been studying it on their own for years and considering the considerably sized wine market house inside of their restaurant (and the fact that they named their restaurant Cork) they might be some of the most knowledgeable winos in D.C. (a word we use with love and admiration, obviously).
That doesn’t mean that making their very first wine was easy for them. Creating this batch of wine has been on their brains since before Cork moved locations (they really only moved down the street but I still tried to walk to their first location like a chump) and the process required a decent amount of time and energy, including trips to Virginia to taste the wine at its different stages. What Cork has now isn’t exactly what Gross planned, she isn’t sold on the taste of the wine they ended up with, but her and Pitts have made the most of it. While they’re not comfortable serving their wine solo, they’ve re-purposed it into a summery rosé based sangria dotted with hunks of pineapple and blueberries that you can drink all summer long (or until they run out, whichever comes first). It’s refreshing and light, but with enough flavor to keep you coming back. It would be easy to have too many of these… and that’s a good problem to have.
Me? I preferred their plain rosé more than the “refined” version they poured for comparison, but what do I know? I’m useless with wine.
*At one point someone told me that the lighter colored a rosé is the better, Gross says that isn’t true at all. I believe here over the other guy.