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Righteous Rosé! | July 2017


The temperature is rising, and you know what that means…summer-summer-summertime! Get out the flip flops and sleeveless dresses and get into the mood to drink pink. Bring on the rosés!

Over the course of the last ten years, wine lovers around the world have changed the way they look at rosé. No longer does a pink beverage attract a sideways glance from neighboring sippers. All “blush” wine was assumed to be sticky sweet White Zinfandel or an overly-fruity wine cooler, but American consumers have finally come to know the joys of dry, refreshing, pleasurable pink wines from here and abroad!

Not by any means a new phenomenon, the tradition of rosé stems from the south of France where the relatively inexpensive refreshers beat the Mediterranean heat with their bright acidity, delicate fruit and hints of herbs. For many, they offer the best of both worlds: a perfect compromise between a crispy white and a lighter red. Rosés will vary based on grape variety, region, and winemaking style, but they typically show notes of red fruit (think: strawberries, raspberries and cherries). Light to medium-bodied, they can also range in levels of minerality, acidity, floral and herbal qualities, and can be anywhere from bone dry to sweet and everywhere in between.

Rosés can be made anywhere in the world and are typically produced without the use of oak, so as to preserve as much crisp fruit and freshness as possible. Any red grape varietal can be used, but the most common are Grenache, Syrah, Zinfandel, Tempranillo and Pinot Noir.

Where the Grape is Grown
How rosé is made:

There are several methods by which rosé can be produced, the most common of which are:

Skin Contact/Maceration: Red grapes are crushed and the juice is left in contact with the skins for anywhere from 2-12 hours (as opposed to the few days that red wines require). After extracting the amount of color and flavor the winemaker desires, the skins are removed from the juice and fermentation continues.

Saignée: The French term for “bleeding.” Because color pigment is actually a solid it settles at the bottom of the fermenting vessel, creating a more concentrated and tannic red topped by lovely pink juice. Removing the “free-run” juice on the top does two things: it makes the intended red wine bolder and more richly colored, but also gives enough light, fresh juice to bottle as rosé. A two-for-one special!

Blending: White wine + red wine = pink wine. This method of mixing a white and a red finished wine is disallowed in most of Europe (outside of the production of rosé Champagne), but is used once in a while in the New World. You will find some European rosés that are made from a mix of white and red grapes, but in these cases the grapes are co-fermented rather than being blended together afterward.

Where rosé is made:

Rosé wine is made throughout the country, including the regions of Champagne, the Loire Valley and even Bordeaux and Burgundy. The most prominent rosé producing regions, however, are further south: Provence, the Rhône Valley (which contains France’s only rosé-only AOC, Tavel), and the Languedoc. The most common grapes used are Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Mourvèdre.

Somewhat richer, fruitier rosados are popular in the warmer region of Campo de Borja, where the Garnacha grape is king. Some pink Cavas are produced in the Penedès region with the addition of Garnacha and/or Monastrell to the sparkling wine’s typical white blend. Rosados are also produced in Spain’s most famous wine region, Rioja, from Tempranillo, Mazuelo and Garnacha (often with a little bit of Viura, a white grape, thrown in).

Central Italy produces rosatos out of the grapes Montepulciano and Sangiovese. In southern Italy, expect to find hearty versions from Calabria’s Gaglioppo grape and expressions from Puglia utilizing Primitivo and Aglianico.

The New World
California, Washington State, Oregon, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Chile and Argentina all make rosés with the grapes most prominently grown in their climates. Since the method doesn’t depend on any particular variety, terroir or style, you can find rosés hailing from anywhere wine is made, from any red grape varietal.

Pairing the Wine with Food
Rosés are delicious and refreshing on their own, but they are also exceptionally food-versatile. They work with pink foods, like salmon and tuna, but also the ones that aren't supposed to be pink, like pork or chicken. Provencal rosés stand up to assertive herbal and garlicky flavors and can be great with salads if acidic dressing is kept in check.

We like rosés for burgers, pasta, pizza, outdoor summertime soirées, indoor movie nights and/or literally any other occasion you can come up with.

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