Pink wine is a touchy subject, understandably so. We’ve long shuddered at the thought of saccharine, syrupy zinfandel and sugar blends that proliferated the American wine markets in the 70s and 80s—iced down to-go containers of glorified grape juice, celebrated and pilfered by teenagers everywhere, thirsty for a first taste of inebriation. But while wine snobs, buffs, casual enthusiasts, and, really, anyone with functional tastebuds have expressed their disdain for the pink stuff, rosé—real rosé—has unfairly become the blush colored scapegoat for the myriad transgressions of White Zinfandel. And it’s time for that to change.
Hear us out: rosé is one of the oldest forms of wine, produced in nearly every winemaking region around the globe. And unlike the sugary stand-in that has assaulted palates for decades, a true rosé is dry, refreshingly versatile, and perfect for the summer heat.
In essence, a rosé is a wine that has retained only some of the tint of the grapes from which it has been pressed. There are various methods for producing rosé, each resulting in slight variations in taste and color. The skin contact method involves letting the wine macerate, or sit on the skins, for a few hours to a day. The longer wine sits on the skins, the more color it extracts, eventually resulting in a deep red. The saignée, or “bled” method, involves skimming or bleeding the paler, lighter, and less tannic wine off the top of a batch after the skins have settled to the bottom, producing the darkest rosé, more akin to a very light red. The third, and rarest method is an actual blend of white and red wine, generally found only in sparkling French varieties.
Rosés are not meant to be aged. The most recent vintage is almost always the freshest and their annual varieties are released from late March to August and last through the summer. And the best come from cooler climates—the mountainous regions of Eastern Spain, the Piedmont region of northern Italy, Austria, and Provence.
As a general rule, rosé is always served chilled. Its light, crisp and refreshing flavors run the gamut from achingly dry to gently tart, making it perfect for pairing with a broad range of late spring and summer dishes. The salty umami of charcuterie is further unveiled by its forgiving flavors. Seafood, fish, chicken, rice, and pork are all elevated to new heights by its straightforwardness, and cheese, perhaps the most difficult to pair, couples easily with rosés dry subtlety.
So, as the weather heats up, barbecues commence and dinners on the terrace turn to rowdy rooftop gatherings, reconsider rosé. The misunderstood, under-appreciated vino’s got more to offer than you might think
Thanks to Secco Wine Bar for the tasting and education.