As the weather in New Orleans warms up, my partiality for bubbly takes a turn toward another style of wine. A crisp, chilled rosé —  bubbly or not — on a steamy afternoon or evening just seems correct, especially when enjoyed with friends. Recently, I found myself doing just that at the Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar & Lounge with a fellow style writer, as writerly types are wont to do.

We toasted to the warmer weather as I filled her in on a recent rosé-related fete — a Veuve Clicquot tasting dinner at Brennan’s. My friend was also invited to cover it, but regrettably had to miss due to Jazz Fest obligations. For lifestyle reporters, forgoing a chic cocktail reception and dinner for the unveiling of a famed French champagne house’s seasonal rosé, in order to take part in one of the city’s most revered events is a veritable Sophie’s choice. Hopefully, our little rosé tête-à-tête took away little of the sting, but I doubt it. Sigh.

A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé

Truth be told, I’m not an expert on wine. I know what I like (Veuve is by far my favorite champagne and Santa Margarita is my go-to Pinot Grigio) and tend not to get too experimental. So, if you’d like to know more about rosés, visit my fellow MyNewOrleans.Com blogger Tim McNally’s post on the subject. If you are like me, tasting dinners are a spectacular way to sample items you might not normally pick up at the wine store.

The aforementioned tasting at the recently reopened Brennan’s in the French Quarter began with a lively couryard reception. Upon entering the lush courtyard, we were welcomed by smiling servers wielding trays laden with glasses of the Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label, served in generously proportioned flutes awash in the company’s signature color and emblazoned with the logo and handy hashtags for the social media savvy in the group.

A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé

​Veuve Clicquot Champagne senior winemaker, Pierre Casanave hosted the elegant event. He spoke for a few minutes and offered up a toast, before Brennan’s beverage manager Joe Billesbach wowed us by sabering an oversized bottle of Veuve. If you’ve never seen a Champagne sabering live and in concert, I highly recommend you plan for it. Brennan’s does it each Friday at 5 p.m., during its “Bubbles at Brennan’s Happy Hour,” from 2 to 7 p.m., in the Courtyard and Roost Bar. Nibble delicious bar snacks and enjoy champagne cocktails and a selection of champagne and sparkling wines. 

Up to this point, we hadn’t yet tasted a rosé. Our hosts kept us satisfied and built up our anticipation however with baked oyster and frogleg appetizers, flowing Veuve Yellow Label and lively conversation. While we mixed, mingled and sipped, singer Lily Blue performed jazz and French standards of which I believe Édith Piaf would have approved.

A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé

As the reception ended, we were ushered into the garden room off of the courtyard. Sunlight gave way to candlelight and the room was bedecked with yellow and pink florals. We were lead through the pairings by Casanave and sampled the Veuve Clicquot Non-Vintage Rosé, Veuve Clicquot Vintage Rosé 2004 and Veuve Clicquot Demi-Sec. Each was served with fitting courses, which included (respectively) fried green tomatoes with butter poached lobster and fennel tomato confit; grilled lamb loin with spinach puree and potatoes “Chanteduc;” and Brennan’s famed bananas foster.

This was by far the grandest way in which I’ve ever rung in rosé season. It has inspired me to make it a yearly ritual to mark the occasion, whether it is with a swanky tasting dinner or a more casual affair with a friend at favorite local haunt. 

A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé

This year, it seems I got to have my rosé and eat dinner too. I’ll toast to that and to a fine summer of good food, great friends and delicious bubbles, pink and otherwise. À votre santé!

If you’d like to sample your way around a few rosés and various other champagnes and sparkling wines, Martin’s Wine Cellar in Metairie is hosting a tasting on May 22. More than 20 champagnes and sparkling wines are on tap, along with cheeses and light bites from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Martin Wine Cellar, 714 Elmeer Ave. The cost is $35 per person. Click here for more information and a list of the selections for the evening. 


A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé  A Rosé, Is a Rosé, Is a Rosé
Final two photos by Gabriel Geiselman. Photos of Hotel Monteleone, Brennan’s server with tray, Billesbach sabering bottle and Lily Blue singing by Melanie Warner Spencer.