Today I’m going to preach. I’m going to sermonize, thump the table, bang the drum and shout Alleluia! And I’m calling for the choir of believers to join me. I am a Rose’ evangelist!
Rose’ is everything that is crisp, lively, summery and tantalizing about wine. It’s typically dry, not sweet, so don’t confuse it with that pink stuff called white zinfandel or other so-called blush wines. Rose’ is an artful and historic wine style. The epicenter for Rose’ is the south of France but it’s made all over France and all over the world. In Spain its known as Rosado; in Germany it’s Weissherbst; in Italy either Rosato or Chiaretto if you’re hanging out near Venice. In the US and places like Australia and South Africa we just stick with Rose’. In addition to still wines there are also yummy sparkling wines and champagne made in the Rose’ style too.
Grape juice from red grapes isn’t red, it’s basically a clear liquid. All the color for red wines comes from leaving this juice in contact with the red grape skins after they’re crushed and during the fermentation into wine. (This is a process called maceration for those who like the geeky parts of wine). There are really three methods used to make this kind of wine with the most common being one where the grapes are crushed and left to hang out in the juice for a few hours or a few days. Actually some French producers use the term une nuit, or one night. But regardless of how long they sit it’s up to the winemaker to decide when the juice is pink enough and then it’s pumped off the skins and tanked to ferment either bone dry or with just a hint of residual sugar.
The other two methods may even be called out on the label. Saignée is a process where the red grapes are crushed and left to macerate for a while then some of the juice is pumped off and goes into the tank to eventually become Rose’ while the rest is left to ferment into red wine. Guess that’s getting the most out of the grape, right?
And finally there’s direct pressing of the whole bunch or cluster of the grapes which almost immediately adds the color to the juice. These are typically the lightest colored Rose’ and the label will often have the words vin gris on it. But no matter which method is used, the artistry is the final wine and Rose’ can be a wonderful part of your wine experiences.
Rose’ can be made from any purple skinned grape. The color and flavors of Rose’ vary a lot. Those from the south of France, like Provence, Bandol and Tavel, tend to be paler, salmon pink with more delicate fruit flavors of raspberry or ripe peach. In Spain, Italy, South Africa and the US they’re often darker, like a shimmering ruby you can see through and are “redder” tasting too – more like ripe strawberries or cherries. But what they all have in common is that they are plain fun to drink. These are “let’s have lunch on the deck” wines ideal for lighter foods and seafoods or crunchy summer salads – or just to sip entirely on their own.
This evangelizing thing must work because there are more and more on the shelves every year. And now Rose’ is getting star power with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie owning their own label, Miraval (no kidding). So if I’m preaching to the choir, Great! And if you’re not in the choir yet open some Rose’ and sing along! Let’s keep spreading the word and get ready to Pop the Cork on Rose’ today.
Everyday Sip: Alexander Valley Vineyards 2014 Rose of Sangiovese $12
Coho salmon red with crispy fresh strawberry flavor. Screw off the top and enjoy.
Guest Sip: Chateau Miraval 2014 Rose Cotes du Provence $23.
Very pretty wine. Vibrant pink with strawberry and white peach tastes. Rounded bottle adds to the table setting and says that this is a bit more special wine.
Splurge Sip: 2014 Domains Ott Chateau Romassan Bandol Clair de Noir $48
Elegant – not a word usually associated with Rose’ but true none the less. Beautifully crafted. From the coastal area in Bandol. Pale pink, with an almost light orange cast. Delicate flavors of strawberry with little squeeze of grapefruit. Crispy dry.