Friday, June 12, 2015
Rosé Wines – Pretty in Pink
In the heat of summer is there anything more perfect than a glass of rosé? Rosés are made in most wine regions around the world where red grapes are grown, for the simple reason that not every occasion (or season) calls for a red wine. Sometimes we just need to lighten things up a bit, or make room for something a bit more refreshing than a bold red.
Rosés can come in a variety of colors depending on the grape variety and method of production. Also coming into play is the original color of the skin of the grape and how long the juice was allowed to stay in contact with the skins before being pressed off. As an example, Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine is a white wine made from red grapes but the juice just didn’t spend enough time on the skins to take up the color.
Not all rosé wines are saccharine-sweet either. Some are austere and bone-dry, others have the perception of sweetness, and still others are decidedly viscous and make for a decadent dessert on their own. The level of sweetness is both a function of winemaking decisions (a winemaker can halt fermentation to purposefully retain some sweetness) and geography. Areas such as Chablis, Champagne, and some parts of New Zealand might be too cool to ripen red grapes with as much sugar as California’s Central Valley. The cooler the climate, the less easily grapes will achieve optimal ripeness/sugars for fermentation.
France: In Provence, rosés range from salmon-hued to pale pink. Common descriptors for these wines are in the red berry range; strawberry, raspberry and bright acid, with citrus notes. Loire is home to one of our favorite pink wines, Sancerre, steely, bright, mineral-laced and endlessly pleasing. Champagne: Made from Pinot Noir (and perhaps Pinot Meunier), blushing Champagne is a real chameleon that pairs well with all sorts of cuisine.
Sonoma: Close to the Pacific Ocean’s cooling influence, pinks from here range widely in style, from austere to fruit-kissed.
Napa: Of course we’re partial to our own back yard. Some of our favorite local producers of rosé are Monticello Vineyards and Robert Sinskey Vineyards. Next time you're in Napa, check them out and you can continue your, ahem, research.… Happy learning! ♠