“I describe rosé like this: that moment on a warm summer afternoon — and it is summer and it is the afternoon — when you find a patch of grass or perhaps a comfortable chair outdoors where you can stretch your muscles, wiggle your toes, and feel the warmth of the sun on your skin as you lie back. As the sun moves onto your face and a calm moves through your body, you close your eyes and notice the soft pink glow that the sun makes as it lights up the delicate skin of your eyelids, and note how lovely this makes you feel. That’s rose֡.” –Australian wine writer Andrea Frost
It’s about to be summer and you should be drinking more rose֡s. Pink wines got a bad rap in the past, but this has been changing in recent years. There was a time when I thought I didn’t like rose֡ wines, but as I learned more about wine and that most rose֡ has nothing to do with sweet White Zinfandel or “blush” wines so popular in the late 20th century, I began to try more and came to appreciate this diverse and food-friendly style of wine. Rose֡s also prove to be a good sipping wine and if the rose֡ on a not-so-great wine list is dry and from France or Spain, I consider it a safe bet, instead of taking my chances on a warm mediocre red wine. I find these wines harder to describe or reduce to tasting notes, but feel that most rose֡s are meant to be enjoyed casually, they can be sipped on a hot summer day or enjoyed with a meal, where they will complement the food but not steal the show.
There are several methods for producing rose֡:
Direct Pressing: Black grapes are crushed and pressed in the same method used to make white wine. Very little color from the grapes makes it into the final product.
Short Maceration: During the production of red wine, the maceration process allows tannins, colors, and flavors into the final product. Rose֡ can also be produced using the same process but for a shorter period of time than used for red wine.
Blending: Rose֡ can also be produced by mixing red and white wine. Other than in Champagne, this method is not legal in the European Union but is sometimes used in new world rose֡s.
Rose֡s are produced all over the world using many grapes varietals. Some of the most famous and popular rose֡s come from Provence, the oldest wine-making region of France. It may even be the oldest known produced style of wine in the world because the technologies used to produce red wines were not always readily available.
Grenache and Syrah are often used to produce rose֡s in Provence and the Languedoc. Rose֡s from Sancerre are made with Pinot Noir. In Spain, Tempranillo and Garnacha are used for rose֡s, with ones from Navarra being an especially good deal. In Italy, a number of indigenous grapes are used to make Rosato. Portuguese rose֡s can be a great value. I’ve had tasty Oregon rose֡s made from Pinot Noir and Gamay, although these tend to be a bit pricier than the European options. Despite its decrease in popularity among serious wine drinkers, the majority of Zinfandel grapes grown in California still are used in the production of White Zinfandel. Other new world options from California, Chile, and Australia are made from Cabernet or Shiraz, although you can also find rose֡s made from Sangiovese from Australia. Recently, I enjoyed a Sangiovese rose֡ from Australian (all vegan) producer Yalumba.
Dry rose֡s pair amazingly with many vegetarian dishes. Rose֡s from Provence tend to be crisper and drier than many of the others. These pair well with herbal dishes, vegetables, olives, mild Middle Eastern-inspired dishes such as baba ganoush or tabbouleh, light Asian dishes, and even some salads.
More medium-bodied and slightly darker rose֡s hold up well with slightly spicier foods, such as many Asian dishes. I love to pair a California rose֡ with Mexican food, even nachos or chili. It’s become my go-to when I’m not quite sure what to pair with any slightly spicy or vegetable-based dish that is not an obvious match for a white wine. I served rose֡ when I hosted Thanksgiving dinner, due to it pairing well with many of the side dishes. As summer approaches. I plan to take a bottle of pink wine on my next picnic.
What do you like to pair with rose֡?