Happy non-Valentine’s Day with Pink Panda

My husband and I don’t “do” Valentine’s Day. We’ve never been the sappy-card couple or the dress-in-pink-and-go-out-for-a-fancy-dinner couple. One year he gave me roses… that he bought at a gas station, and that was the first and last year we bothered to get romantic on Valentine’s Day.

In fact, I kind of prefer the intentionally non-romantic gestures. A big middle finger to the establishment. Yeah, that’s right. No romantic comedies on our Netflix tonight. It’s all about “Apocalypse Now” this February 14!

Ok, maybe that’s getting extreme, but it sets the stage for today’s wine pick,
Pink Panda, a marvelous pink sparkling wine from the ultimate middle-finger-to-the-establishment winery, Naked Rebel Winery. Yes: Naked. Rebel. (more on their eponymous wine here)

pink panda 3

Winemaker Chip Forsythe. C’mon, you can totally see how “Naked Rebel” and a pink dancing panda could come from this.

This is a winery composed of California college buddies who liked the notion of making their own wine (so they didn’t have to buy it) and recruited some friends to join the adventure. I’m pretty sure there must be a story behind the winery name… probably stemming from too much sampling of their wares, but that’s just speculation.

But why shouldn’t they sample their own creation? It’s really good! (you like that segue way?)

The Pink Panda is an Alexander Valley, Calif., pinot fermented with the Charmat method, which produces light, airy fizz., and is fairly close to the “sweet” end of the sugar scale. (yeah, I had to check wikipedia to make this line sound so smart)

pink panda 2The result is a delicious mix of sugar-crusted grapefruit, or a juicy cherry wrapped in pink cotton candy. I once had a cocktail that was some sort of fruit-liquor concoction poured over a mound of cotton candy, which then dissolved into the drink. Yes, it was sweet, but balanced so nicely with the fruit that it was drinkable… more than drinkable, it was delicious! I had three!

This is epitome of fun sparkling wines. The bottle is fun (who doesn’t love dancing panda bears?), the winery is fun, and the flavor is fun. If you’re snobby about your wine, you may not want to play in this sandbox, because this is where the cool kids hang.

And these Naked Rebels have obviously done their research in labeling, and by “research,” I think they’d agree that means lots of drinking in lots of questionable locations. And their research led to the decision to screen print the bottle with a glow-in-the-dark label. You know, so you can find the bottle with the lights off!

pink panda 1Ah yes, my Valentine’s night was not softly lit by candles and a crackling fire. No, my husband and I gazed at each other’s faces illuminated by explosions of napalm on the TV and a glowing dancing panda.

If that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

Update: For some silly reason, we didn’t finish the bottle on Valentine’s Day, so we polished it off tonight. It didn’t pair well with my chicken enchiladas AT ALL, but who cares?

Note: This wine was provided to me by the winery. But as with all wines I sample, I only write about what I like. My mama taught me right: If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.


Get wild with Naked Rebel

I’d planned on saving my bottle of Naked Rebel red wine for a special occasion. But, well, that special occasion turned out to be a friend and me running out of this ridiculously tasty Captain Morgan punch and deciding that thNRW 3e wine with the mustache label looked like a fun follow-up.

Ordinarily I wouldn’t admit that I drank a bottle of wine after running out of booze, but for some reason, I think the guys at Naked Rebel would approve. I suspect that might be the very reason they started making wine in the first place. The 20-somethings who created Naked Rebel aren’t concerned with the usual wine snobbery; they boast on their website that, “Our Napa blend tastes just as good out of a Mason jar as it does out of fine crystal.” That’s a good thing, because I don’t have any fine crystal.

The website is laden with the kind of laughing-at-ourselves machismo that makes it attractive, not arrogant. They proudly claim that, “This is a wine that can stand with all the big boys of Napa, but chooses to sneak under the table and make out with the bridesmaids instead.” Yeah, they’re THOSE guys… and you can’t help but love them for it.

One of the big selling points for the wine is its label that glows in the dark. So you don’t have to turn on the lights to pour another glass. Hmmmm, maybe that’s where these rebels found inspiration for the “naked” part of their name.

So my friend and I decided to test the glowing label and rushed to the bathroom and turned off the lights. Sure enough, a faint glowing mustache appeared next to the sink. Damn if that isn’t clever!

In fact, just about everything with this winery is clever, but perhaps the most clever trick they’ve pulled is that they’re actually making really good wine. It’s not all gimmick. These are the college party boys who actually aced their finals. This is the anti-wine winery that actually makes fantastic wine.

Despite my Captain Morgan and red wine haze, I actually did remember to make some notes on the wine. The blend of California Cab and Syrah creates a wonderfully hearty and spicy cherry flavor. I was impressed with the light touch of tobacco and leather – not too heavy and perfectly balanced with black cherry. The wine is a deep red and certainly meaty, but it’s not too thick. You don’t feel like you’re chewing your wine, just enjoying a smooth Naked Rebel.

This wine retails for about $19.99, making it a respectable price point to impress your girlfriend or wife, but not a budget-breaker. It was part of a sample that sent to me by the winery, but as always, I don’t write about wines just because they’re sent to me. If I don’t like it, I don’t write about it, and if I do like it, I tell the world.