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Rosé Wine (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

Rosé Wine (c)2012 LaDomestique.com

This week I suffered my first (and only) sunburn of the season. It’s now warm enough to steal a Friday afternoon at the pool before the kids get out of school and ruin all the lovely peace and quiet. Each year, I cautiously don my bikini and creep out to a lounge chair in the sun, soaking up the rays until I’m warmed through. Sweating in the sun feels good, and makes me thirsty- not for water or lemonade, but for rosé. This dry “pink wine” is something I look forward to every spring when the latest vintage is released. Meant to be drunk young, for the most part, rosé should be enjoyed within the first year or two of the vintage. To really appreciate rosé, you’ve got to understand what it represents. Mark Oldman describes Provençe as the original home of rosé in his book, Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine, writing, “that paradisiacal region of sun-kissed slopes and lavender meadows remains a locus of rose’s spiritual soul.” A Mediterranean coastline of fun and sun in the southeast of France, the mother of the best rosé in the world, Provençe produces blushing pink wines with minerality, floral essences, a hint of berry or melon fruit, and a truly refreshing acidity guaranteed to quench your thirst on a hot day. The beauty of any rosé is its ability to be crisp and refreshing like a white wine, with the depth of flavor and body of a red wine.

Delicious rosé is produced in other countries too, including Spain, Italy, Greece, Australia, and the United States. The term rosé indicates a style of wine, made of red wine grapes varying from region to region. In France, the grapes for making rosé are a selected from Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, and Syrah. The Navarra region of Spain is famous for rosado made from Garnacha (known as Grenache in France). Italy produces excellent rosato wines saturated in deep red color with flavors of berries and dried cherries with a hint of cinnamon spice and orange peel. The lip smacking grape Montepulciano is used to make rosato in the Abruzzo region while Negroamaro grapes are used to make rosato in Puglia. Valle d’ Aosta, in northern Italy, is known for strawberry-scented rosato made from the thin-skinned Prëmatta grape.

Most often, rosé is vinified from red grapes in a method known as saignée, and the grape skins are left in contact with the grape juice for a short time, thus imparting less red pigment than a truly red wine. Sometimes, rosé is the result of blending red and white wines together. The color of rosé ranges from a whisper of pink to deep garnet red, and holds a clue to the flavor inside the bottle. Lighter colored rosé indicates very dry, mineral, crisp and floral wine, while rich color is a sign of deeper fruit flavors and spice.

There’s nothing serious about rosé, but that doesn’t mean it’s a joke. Underrated is a word that comes up constantly in the rosé wine conversation. The acidity and spice character of rosé pairs happily with an impressive range of foods. Across the globe, rosé is enjoyed with spicy foods (anything with chiles- Chinese, Thai, Mexican cuisines). It’s a match for delicate seafood and stands strong next to charcuterie or grilled/roasted meats. Take advantage of the affordability of easygoing rosé wines, and do as the Frankies do- taste as many bottles as you can early in the season, then pick your favorite rosé for summer and buy it by the case.

Rosé wine is the “pantry” ingredient of the week at la Domestique, and you’ll find inspiration on cooking with pink wine as well as pairing it with vibrant spring meals. If you’ve never tasted rosé, it’s time to try something new. The days are getting warmer and sunny afternoons beg for a bottle of thirst-quenching rosé wine. Won’t you join me?

Do you drink rosé? Share your favorite regions and producers of pink wine in the comments section. Click Here.