We’ve been stopping to smell the rosés ever since the first bouquet hit our tasting table. Some regard rosé as a strictly summer sipper, but we refuse to pack it away with our white pants.
Combining white wine’s freshness with red wine’s depth, rosé actually makes an ideal shoulder season wine. When tomatoes are still around (if a bit soft around the edges), they join eggplant and Swiss chard in a pasta sauce and you’ve got a 30-minute meal fit for a table en Provence.
Its unfortunate resemblance to White Zinfandel hasn’t made life easy for rosé. While rosé has certainly redeemed itself in the eyes of the general public (and never fell out of favor among us wine geeks), it can still split a crowd. French for “pink,” rosé is the term used to describe all wines of this color. But since a rosé is not a rosé is not a rosé (just look at all the different shades they come in!), knowing a bit about how they are made is key to finding one that tickles you pink.
Typically, rosé is made from pressing red grapes and then leaving the juice and skins to macerate (i.e., hang out) for two to three days. The lighter the color, the shorter they hang out; the darker the color, the longer they hang out. This applies to the wine’s body too. The darker the rosé, the heftier and more tannic (astringent) it’s flavor.
And what explains the varying levels of sweetness? A winemaker may choose to halt the fermentation process before all of the grapes’ sugars have turned into alcohol, leaving a percentage of residual sugar.
Translation? A good rosé should be dryer than a Capri Sun and sweeter than a cuppa Earl Grey with the inherent fruitiness of its grapes and the zippy acidity of a Sour Patch Kid. Add in a whiff of asphalt after a rainstorm or a gravelly, babbling brook for wines proud of their terroir (the only kind we carry, mind you). Are we blushing yet?
No matter which of the following rosés sounds most appealing, you can be sure that all of them will be the perfect dining companion – a refreshing break from the usual bipartisan selection. Choices are good. Pick your pink!
Bebame Rosé – You don’t have to know Spanish to figure out that Bebame means “drink me” –the wine’s frosty pink color alone is pretty enticing. This gulper from California’s Sierra Foothills is crispy and dry yet slightly spicy from its blend of Cabernet Franc and Gamay grapes.
Matthiasson Rosé – The come-hither, barely-there hue of this northern California-grown wine hints at the elegance within. It’s a blend of four different grapes – Grenache, Syrah, Mouvèdre and Counoise. Aromas and flavors of white peach and citrus blossoms dance atop a mineral backbone and a finish that’s dry yet completely refreshing.
Billsboro Rosé of Pinot Noir – Still more salmon-colored than carnation pink yet with a bit more oomph than the Matthiasson, this rosé exemplifies just how well Pinot Noir (a notoriously fickle grape to grow) does in the Finger Lakes. Close your eyes and you’re on vacation, tasting wild berries plucked from a bush in the woods.
Channing Daughters Rosé di Syrah – Made with a bold and peppery grape from France’s Northern Rhone, this rosé from one of Long Island’s most reputed producers manages to be delicate and impactful at the same time. Cranberries and raspberries mingle with white pepper, violets and slate in a pink that packs a punch. Boom.