Getting Serious About Rosé
Rosé all day. All night. All year. For millennia.
I hope you can deal with it. I sure can. And I’m by no means alone in that regard. Rosé is ubiquitous, it’s the fastest growing category of wine, and it’s seriously having a moment. I would call it a “Rosé Renaissance.”
And while we may a bit late to the rosé game, it was actually the beverage of choice during ancient times. As the earliest recorded wine in history, the “rosé lifestyle” is as old as time. Snapchat that!
What is rosé anyway?
Rosés are pink wines made from red grapes, whose depth of color is dependent upon the amount of time the juice remains in contact with grape skins. Like any wine, rosé can be made in a slew of styles, from dry to sweet, ranging in color from very pale pink to Kool-Aid red. Rosé winemakers are careful to limit contact time between the skins and juice so that only a slight degree of color is extracted from the skins and incorporated into the final wine. It’s important to note though that color does not necessarily indicate sweetness, and a common misconception is that darker rosés must be sweeter. On the contrary, these can be just as bone dry than their more pastel counterparts.
The earliest wines were pale in color because vinification techniques involving extended maceration and pressing were not widespread. Ancient Greeks brought grapevines to what is present-day Southern France in 600 BC, and the Romans, through their well-developed commerce networks, helped distribute the rosé that had already gained a foothold in the region. As a result, Provence had become, and still is considered, the center of the rosé world.
How is rosé made?
The “maceration” process--the most common method for making rosé--involves crushing and fermenting red grapes and allowing that juice to soak for a few hours or several days until the desired amount of color is achieved. The entire batch of juice is then finished into rosé wine. Most pale Provencal and rosé wines from Southern France are made in this fashion.
In the much less common saignée method of rosé production, a certain amount of juice that has been crushed and vatted for a short period of time is run or “bled” off and made into rosé wine. The remaining juice soaks with the skins and is made into red wine. Many of these rosés tend to be bolder, darker, and more unctuous on the palate.
What rosé should I drink today?
The beauty, and hence the recent resurgence, of rosé lies in its diversity of styles, flavors, and food-friendly characteristics. Provence is considered the standard-bearer but quality rosé is produced worldwide. For a straightforward, tasty example try Croix d'Or Syrah Rosé (about $13) from the Languedoc, France. As Washington Post's wine critic Dave McIntyre recently noted, its strawberry flavors are enjoyable before dinner or with a light lunch. With a brilliant salmon-colored hue and medium-bodied texture, this rose is as appealing as it looks.
For a New World expression of a Syrah rosé, explore the multi-layered Matakana Rosé from Marlborough New Zealand (about $19). With more lifted aromas of strawberries and watermelon than its French counterpart, this wine is refreshing, complex, and vibrant. Pair this with grilled shrimp, salmon, or light Asian fare.
Try Weingut Lustig's Zweigelt rosé (about $16) for a unique take on your pink drink. As the most planted red varietal in Austria, this crisp, vividly-colored rosé displays aromas of red currants and cranberries, along with subtle layers of berry and citrus on the palate. Enjoy it with lighter grilled meats or savory appetizers.
Finally, for a lovely petillant--or spritzy--version of rosé, savor Tiroliro's Vinho Verde (about $10). Made from a pair of indigenous varietals from Portugal, this lively, pink-colored wine offers pleasant aromas and flavors of red fruits and blackberries. It's certainly a delicious accompaniment to fish tacos, ceviche, or sweet-sour dishes.
These wines are all imported and distributed by Artisans & Vines (www.artisansandvines.com) and are available at local retailers including Cleveland Park Wine and Spirits and Rodman's in D.C.;
Bradley Food and Beverage in Bethesda; Dawson's Market in Rockville, and Parkway Deli and Restaurant in Silver Spring.
Looking to revel in more rosé? Partake in more pink? Bask in the blush? Local rosé sampling events in the DMV abound to help you explore what has become a bona fide wine category. Contact me at email@example.com, or visit www.thevinicola.com, Instagram (@thevinicola), or Facebook (theViniCola) to find or schedule your next rosé soirée! evel 3, thinks rosé is more than just the “Champagne of Millennials.”