Without a doubt, White Zinfandel, with its strawberry syrup-ness, has sentenced the entire class of rosés to a crude and classless reputation. But dry rosé has made a Brittany-esque comeback. Today’s new, snazzed-up pink wine is fragrant with strawberries and watermelon, and packs a tart finish fantastic for summer. My fridge is bloated with dry rosé wines all season long, since it’s perfect for both day and nighttime, whether happy hour, picnic, lunch, dinner or brunch. I force it on everyone who crosses my threshold, explaining how the refreshing acids and understated tannins make it super food-friendly, matching both light fare and spicy food. The only thing bad about dry rosés is their lack of availability. They don’t exactly fly off the retail shelves since pink still suffers from marketing woes, so they unfortunately aren’t stocked very often. But seek and ye shall find. Especially this one from Clayhouse Wines in California’s Paso Robles.
Rosé wines — or “blush” as some wineries call them — are created by allowing the juice from red grapes to sit with its skins and seeds for a few hours before fermentation. All grapes, no matter their skin color, have clear juice, but exposure to skins stains the liquid. Darker rosés indicate the winemaker kept the juice stewing longer, coaxing more tannins into the future wine to give it more power and structure.
Winemakers pretty much make rosés from any red grape, with my favorites coming from Syrah, Grenache and Zinfandel (generally labeled Rosé of Zinfandel to avoid the stigma). This Rhône varietal blend (Syrah, Grenache, Mourvedre) from Clayhouse bears a pretty, light salmon color and is delicately fruity. Juicy aromas of raspberry, orange and strawberry burst on to the tongue followed by an unexpected twist of sweet, stewed red fruit mid sip. Finishes with a quenching citrus flavor and a dash of earthiness to make it interesting. It sports good acidity and 0.4% residual sugar that rounds out the wine’s softness on the tongue. Well made wine for the price.
Sweetness: 2 out of 10
Price: $12 – $15
Occasion: Sample sent from the winery, and tasted blind
Availability: Higher end grocery stores. Or in their online store.
Food pairing: Complex salads, Pesto and Smoked Salmon Pasta, Shrimp with Sauteed Fennel, or, you know, pretty much anything