Refresh!

Let's Play with Rosé
5/6/2017
Kevin Marshaus

Spring and summer are upon us! While the flowers of summer are budding we become anxious to get the winter clean-up projects out of the way, looking forward to Derby Day. The soul begins to long for the fresh, naturally delicate flavors of lighter foods and beverages. Salads, fresh vegetables, seafood, chicken and pork entrées seasoned to perfection with fresh herbs instead of heavier sauces now take center stage. We turn to fresher, lighter beer styles like lagers, hefeweizens and hopped-up, medium bodied pale ales, cocktail selections like minty Mojitos, rum and cachaça based drinks or fruity “Martini Cocktails” rather than higher alcohol classic Martinis. Old World and South American red wines move to the forefront, along with crisp dry whites and—aahh– rosés.

While one of my greatest wine weaknesses is for rosé Champagnes and other sparkling rosé wines, the still versions can also stir my soul. I have long been a proponent for both, even when the majority of Americans associate pink hued wine and sparkling wine with sweetness. Their misconception isn’t unfounded. Our first wine experiences were often the pink, semi-sweet White Zinfandel or sweet, frothy spumante served at wedding receptions and on New Year’s Eve. These items still have merit—this is where many of us started drinking wine. Their dominance, however, has surrendered to the explosion of fantastic regional wineries offering a sweeter introductory platform and the widespread availability of quality, drier, affordable Cava and Prosecco “bubbly”. 

Classic rosés are dry, made in almost every red wine growing region of the world, comprised of distinctive regional grape varietals like Germany’s Spätburgunder (shpayt-boor-gun-dehr)(Pinot Noir), Grenache (greh-nosh) from the south of France and Spain (Garnacha {gahr-nah-chah}), or Cabernet Franc in Anjou. Rosé should be crisp and refreshing, like a fine white wine, all the while hanging in the balance between white and red with vibrant berry and red tree fruit flavors and aromas. As a still wine, it should never be terribly complex, but always enticing. 

When red grapes are pressed, the juice is usually clear. During fermentation the pigments (and most of the flavors) are extracted from the skins into the wine. For rosé, the juice may be fermented clear and then blended with red wine, but the preferred method is called saingée (sehn-yay), or “bleeding”. Here the juice is allowed to ferment in contact with the skins for a short period of time, then it is “bled” off once the desired level of extraction has been achieved. Fermentation is completed in a stainless steel tank, allowing retention of the fresh fruit flavors without the influence of oak. Rosés can be pale and delicate in hue, or achieve a deep magenta color, but are always very pretty.

Rosés available locally ($12-$25) are:

1. Bieler Père & Fils Coteaux-d’Aix-en-Provence, 2016 — Delicate rosy pink with bold aromas of raspberry, red cherry and watermelon. Cherry and strawberry flavors roll into a lingering creamy finish.

2. M. Chapoutier “Belleruche” Côtes-du-Rhône, 2015 — Pale salmon color showing delicate earthy aromas, black cherry and raspberry followed by bold flavors of the same, highlighted with vibrant acidity. Charming historical significance: Chapoutier was the first winery to use Braille on labels and now it is found on all of their bottles!

3. Caves D’Esclans “Whispering Angel” Côtes de Provence, 2015 — Pale pink with delicate coppery hues. Aromas and flavors of fresh strawberries and cream balance with Granny-Smith tartness finish smoothly and crisply. Elegant and lovely!

However trendy it may be now, rosé has always been an intriguing choice. Enjoy the warmer weather, take the opportunity to grab a few bottles, get out and play!



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