Time to Stop and Taste the Rosés

With spring in full bloom and summer just around the bend, it is a good time to reacquaint ourselves with the beauty of the oft-maligned rosé. Neither white nor red, rosés are sometimes looked down on by wine aficionados. They are not expensive or difficult to produce. They lack the cachet of trophy wines, name recognition of top brands and do not age well. In short, they are sometimes seen as the choice of wine lightweights, however, over the past few years, Rosè wine has exploded across the U.S. market.

It is easy to forget the long and illustrious history of the humble rosé. Experts consider rosés the world’s oldest wine, dating to about 7,000 B.C. Greeks settled in present-day Marseilles, France, about 2,600 years ago, and introduced the first vines to Provence. They enjoyed the fruits of their labor by cracking open a clay pot and sharing some rosé.

Most rosés are produced through “skin contact,” the simplest and fastest winemaking process. After pressing the grapes, skins are left in the juice for a short period of time, usually no longer than one to three days. Greeks and Roman winemakers found that leaving the skins in the liquid longer, known as maceration, resulted in a darker, harsher tasting red wines.

The first champagnes were pale red or pinkish in color. Rosés still account for as much as 5 percent of France’s annual champagne production.

Rosés can be made from a wide variety of grapes that yield many different tastes, so they are not easy to classify. France is the world’s biggest producer of rosé, most of it from the Provence, Loire Valley, Rhône and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. The country accounts for 28 percent of the global supply and is the world’s largest consumer, followed by the United States and Italy.

In Italy, rosé is known as Rosato and first appeared in the southern part of the country where extreme heat killed yeast and cut short the fermentation process. Italian Rosato’s tend to be very pale in color. Slightly darker Rosato’s are known as Chiarettos. Ramato wine from the area around Venice has a copper color, where the Cerasuolo-d’Abruzzo region on the Adriatic coast is known for vintages that are cherry red. In general, regions in northern Italy produce “delicate’ rosés; those in the south for vintages that are more robust and fuller-bodied.

Germany has several regions noted for their individual styles of rosé (rosewein or rossewein). In the Baden region, for example, Badisch Rotgold is a specialty rosé made from pinot noir and pinot gris grapes. The Styria region in neighboring Austria is known for Schilcher, which has a distinctive fruity flavor and high levels of acidity.

Spain also is a significant producer of rosé, or rosado, most notably from the Navarra region near the French border. Portugal is primarily known for its sparkling rosés: Mateus and Lancers.

In the United States, European-style rosé has been usurped by zinfandels and blushes, sweeter wines that typically use “white” or “blanc” in their names. White Zinfandel. Cabernet Blanc. White Merlot. If it is a true rosé you seek, look across the Atlantic.

Below are great reasons to give Rosè a try.

Refreshing. Chilled rosés are a great choice in warm weather.

Attractive pricing. Because they require less aging, rosés are far less expensive to produce than other types of wine. There is no reason to spend more than $15 or so for a very good bottle. Even high-end rosés can be purchased for $25-$30. Have something to celebrate, but want to go easy on your budget? Substitute a bottle of nice sparkling rosé for champagne at a fraction of the price.

No aging required. You won’t find rosés in the wine cellars of serious collectors. Rosés must be consumed within two years of when they are produced. Best, though, to buy in the afternoon, drink in the evening. By the way, go for the newest vintage.

Versatile pairing. Rosés exhibit a range of flavor undertones, from honeydew melon to citrus and more, so they pair well with an equally impressive variety of foods. Because they originated in the Mediterranean area, rosés go well with the distinctive ingredients of the region’s cuisine, such as hummus, garlic, and seafood. Sunset magazine recommends rosés for summer recipes, including grilled chicken thighs with sweet onions and peppers, prosciutto panini, pasta with puttanesca sauce, Niçoise salad and spicy seafood stew. Rosés are the perfect choice for just about any spicy Mexican, Thai or Greek dish.

Frank Stamos, The Cork Stop wine director, suggests two rosés: Mylonas and Alpha Estate Rosé both from Greece.


Post by Bertil Peterson, Digital Marketing Stream