A Decanter.com article confirmed what we have been observing at The Wine Merchant over the last few years – wine drinkers are coming around to rosé. And why not? It’s delicious! There is no more hedonistic beverage than a dry rosé.
Rosés are made from the same black-skinned grapes that are used to make red wine. The pulp and juice of the vast majority of these grapes is clear. The skins impart the color during maceration, which occurs just after the grapes have been crushed. In the case of rosé, this period of skin contact is much shorter. Traditionally a portion of the juice being used to make red wine was run off to concentrate the wine. This run-off juice became the rosé. Today’s best examples are made from grapes that are specifically grown for rosé production. These grapes are often harvested a bit earlier to maintain higher acid levels, which makes the wine more thirst quenching and a better food pair.
A rosé can be produced from any red grape, but some are more widely used than others. Grenache is probably the most popular, especially in Spain and the south of France. Pinot Noir works particularly well, too. Italy has begun to present some interesting rosés from all corners of the peninsula and a wide range of grape varieties. Darker-skinned grapes like Cabernet Franc and Malbec are used in the Loire Valley and Argentina.
The style is most closely associated with the south of France, particularly Provence, where the climate is warm and arid. White grapes do not do particularly well here, so rosé is typically the drink of choice to relieve the hot days. It pairs particularly well with the cuisine of the region – bouillabaisse comes to mind. It also works particularly well with tomatoes. Gazpacho! Lastly, no wine is a better complement to barbecue sauce. Be sure to bring an extra bottle because it will be gone before you know it.
Among the fine wine drinking public, resistance to the idea of drinking pink wine has fallen rapidly; however, I still get some quizzical looks when I suggest a rosé. This is rooted in the association with Mateus, White Zinfandel and other blush wines – a term that implies sweetness, and therefore poor quality in the eyes of many consumers. I’ve found that for the majority of customers that come into my shop, convincing them that quality sweet wines exist is more difficult than convincing them that quality rosé exists. I’ve never had a sweet rosé that I found to be delicious, but it has to exist. There is too much wine in the world. (Anybody know of one?)
The South of France: Domaine Tempier (importer: Kermit Lynch), Domaine de Nizas (importer: Clos du Val Wine Co.), Mas de Guiot (importer: Robert Kacher), Mas des Bressades (importer: Robert Kacher), Chateau Morgues du Gres (importer: Peter Weygandt), Chateau Revelette (importer: )