Unfortunately for American wine drinkers, pink wine has gotten a pretty bad rap in our country over the last couple decades. Most of us blame the likes of Carlo Rossi, Franzia, and Sutter Home for creating inferior blush wines that have inundated our market for an entire generation. I try not to judge, but come on people. White zinfandel sucks.
The good news is: Dry rosé is making a serious comeback. In 2009, reports claim dry rosé sales accounted for a record 11% of wine sales in this country. And there is nothing better this time of year than a crisp, fruity and delicious rosé. Southern France is credited for the best in the world, but other areas are starting to turn out some great ones as well. In the US, California is leading the charge, with Oregon making a real push the last two or three years. Spain, South America, Australia, and South Africa are all making excellent strides, and rosés from other parts of France are making a statement as well.
Rosé is basically just a very light version of a red wine and can be made in a variety of ways. The grapes are picked and pressed. Then, instead of soaking the juice in the grape skins as usual, the skins are removed after about two days or so, and the wine is then fermented. The second way is a method called saignée, when some of the pinkish juice is removed from a vat of red wine very early on. The pink stuff becomes rosé, while the rest gains more concentrated tannin and color and grows up to be a real red wine. Lastly, some rose is made from blending white wine and red wine; but this practice isn’t as common, is often frowned upon, and is usually saved for a big ole batch of jug wine. In any case, rosés are bottled promptly, usually released the following spring and are meant for immediate consumption and delight.
So what does this stuff taste like? Well, when it’s done right dry rosé is lively but elegant; and tastes like fresh strawberries and raspberries, maybe a little watermelon, and just a little hint of rose petal. Some are more delicate and floral, while others are much more vibrant and juicy. I’ve had a few really intense, jammy rosés, and I’ve had a few that reminded me a bit too much of my grandmother’s perfume. The best of them balance all these things and bring a smile to my face like nothing else can do.
Rosés are perfect for salad courses, especially something with a fresh raspberry or strawberry vinaigrette. I also love rosé with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella, with prosciutto di Parma or Serrano ham, with many seafood dishes, as well as lighter pastas and sandwiches. A nice, juicy rosé is absolutely perfect for your next picnic or barbeque; as well as for your Thanksgiving table. (Don’t worry; I will come back to that later in the year.) For cheeses, I like rosé with a fresh goat’s milk cheese such as Humboldt Fog or Caña de Cabra. Surprisingly, a nice 5 or 6 year cheddar is also a delicious accompaniment with some fresh apple or pear slices. In short, dry rosé is one of the most versatile kinds of wines there is, as well as a wonderful springtime sipper. Did I mention most good bottles only cost $10 – $15?!
So, without further ado, here’s some of my perennial favorites, as well as some recommended accompaniments. Cheers!
- Muga Rosado Serrano and Melon
- Saintsbury Vin Gris Grilled Salmon with Morel Mushrooms
- Chateau de Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
- Crios Rosé of Malbec Shrimp with Chimichurri