Outside, the mercury hit 95 degrees (105 if you’re counting “heat index”). One swing of the door and the humidity slaps my face, sweat streams from my pores, and my fresh application of face powder degrades to a clumpy, taupe mess. My own private steamroom. Summer as a kid meant all play, everyday. Not sure how I endured the heat then as extended daylight ushered in hours of Kick the Can, rope swings and hanging with friends. This last part hasn’t changed much in adulthood, but as summer continues to plant its rump on my doorstep, backyard bonding over numerous bottles of rosé wine and grilled food become my new games.
While the American public is slowly embracing the joys of pink wine, many in “the industry” vehemently support dry rosés. They’re perfect for cutting the summer heat and can accompany any sort of food, from grilled hamburgers to pasta in cream sauce. Most winemakers even produce a case or two of rosés for their own consumption.
Of course, one reason some folks turn up their noses is the ubiquitousness of White Zinfandel, for years the top-selling wine in the United States (now toppled by Merlot, so I heard). And there are still plenty of rosé wines out there that reek of canned cherries in syrup. But that’s what critics are for: to help you dodge the dogs.
All grapes, no matter the color of their skins, have clear juice. Rosé wine is created when red grape skins are allowed to stew with the juice — days or weeks for red wines; a few hours for rosés, or blush, as some wineries call them. You’ll notice that some rosés are darker than others. This indicates the winemaker kept the juice sitting longer with the skins, coaxing more tannins into the wine to give it a more flavorful punch.
Rosés come from most countries and from any red grape: syrah, grenache, cabernet sauvignon and zinfandel. (Wineries that wish to avoid the déclassé “White Zin” moniker call their pink wines “Zinfandel Rosé.”) Some of the best come from the Provence and Languedoc regions of France, where citizens guzzle them by the gallons. And all these blushing masters don’t “age”– drink them within two years of release.
The characteristic smack of White Zinfandel comes from adding sugar to the juice or stopping fermentation before the sugar has been transformed into alcohol. In dry rosés, most of the sugar gets converted during fermentation, yielding a high-octane beverage. One reliable, yet not infallible, method of determining whether a rosé tastes sweet is by looking at the alcohol percentage, located on the label. Those with higher alcohol content, normally between 12.5 and 14.5 percent, are dry, and sweeter wines show 10-12 percent.
After recently bemoaning the lack of affordable pink wines, I had a many people come forward and suggest some tasty juice… and I found a couple of my own after digging. Have you found any that you like? Put ’em in the comments!
Jaboulet 2009 Parallèle 45 Rosé (Côtes du Rhône, France) A veritable floral fruit cup, sprinkled with irrestibly fun mojo. Fuller-bodied than most rosé wines. Tart cherry, strawberry, raspberry and lemon-lime. Refreshing steely-ness with bracing acidity and a dry, slight peppery finish. Quitessential pool wine. Made from Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. Sw=1. $12. 4 stars.
Chateau de Fontenille 2009 Bordeaux Clairet (France) A rosé for red drinkers (Clairet is a Bordeaux name for rosés) — it packs some heartiness to it. Medium-bodied and mouth filling with ripe red cherry, raspberry, bright acidity and a dash of surprising soft leather tannin. Sports a long cherry finish. Made from Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon. Sw=1. $12. 4.5 stars.
Ones I tried and had to pour out: Santi Infinito 2009 Rosé, Robert Oatley 2009 Sangiovese Rosé
Recommended rosés from other wine industry folks:
Bern’s Fine Wines:
2009 Mas de la Dame Rosé ($15.95)
2009 La Commanderie de Payrassol Rosé ($22.95)
2009 Crios Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec (Argentina) ($9.99)
2009 Domaine Tempier Rosé (Bandol, France) ($29.99)
2009 Le Rosé du Chateau Larcis Ducasse (Bordeaux) ($13.99)
2009 Muga Rosado (Rioja, Spain) ($11.99)
Carrollwood Fine Wines:
2009 Bodegas Faustino V Rosé from Rioja, Spain ($10.99)
Ed’s Fine Wines:
Crios Rosé of Malbec from Mendoza Argentina ($10.99)
Mulderbosch Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc from South Africa $12.99) (previous vintage review)
Albemarle Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec from Virginia ($9.99)
Casal Garcia Rosé of Vino Verde from Portugal ($7.99)
Tower Wines and Spirits
“Rosé de Fayel” by Jean-François Fayel 2009 Vin du Pays du Gard ($11.99)
Domaine de La Petite Cassagne Rosé 2009 Costières de Nîmes ($9.99)
Domaine de Gournier Rosé 2009 Vin de Pays des Cévennes ($8.99)
Mas Carlot 2009 Rosé ($8.99)