Pink is the New White: The Rosés of Summer
- by Anna Speer
Let's begin by dispensing with a common misconception. Grape juice from wine berries is colorless. It doesn't matter if we are crushing a Sauvignon Blanc berry or a Merlot berry: the juice is clear. It is the skin of the grape that lends color to the juice. The longer the juice is exposed to the crushed skin, the deeper the color becomes.
Creating wine via crushing wine berries is the oldest winemaking technique in the world. Ancient winemakers would stomp the grapes, leaving the juice in contact with the skins before discarding them and allowing the juice to ferment. The result would have been a clear, lightly colored pink wine.
Today, rosés display great variety in color and taste profile, ranging from off-orange and bone-dry to bright purple and sweet. Rosés spend a notably short time in maceration (that's wine-speak for processing and maturing); this limits their shelf life. These are "right now" wines best consumed within a year of production, with the newest vintages offering the freshest choices.
Let's take a look at the most popular grapes used to make rosé and the styles of wine they produce:
Grenache accounts for over 60 percent of rosé blends and is also used to create single varietals. Most notably, these grapes are used in immensely popular French Grenache/Cinsault/Syrah blends. These wines are fresh, fruity and acidic, with good body and a long finish. They show best when fully chilled, and go well with literally everything, especially hot July evenings. Of all the wines I sampled for this article, Grenache-based rosés were far and away my favorites.
So, how do we select our ideal rosé? Start by asking a few questions.
"Is it dry?" Sometimes, this question can be answered by looking at the wine's country of origin. European rosés tend to be drier while U.S. and New World rosés can lean toward semi-sweet. If you are looking for a sweet pink, refer to the previous paragraph.
"How's the color?" Try to avoid selecting a wine solely based on color: while consumers tend to purchase deeper-hued rosés, blind taste tests have demonstrated a strong trend in preference for lighter ones. When in doubt, go French; they've been doing the rosé thing for a long time.
"Will the boys like it?" Gentlemen, pink wine isn't just for the ladies: this is a lasting trend we all need to jump on. If anyone raises an eyebrow at you while you're sipping on a delicious glass of summertime heaven, tell them this: it's not ROsé, its BROsé.
Steals, Deals, Splurges
"Steals" are usually under $10, "Deals" in the $15 range, and "Splurges" are in $20 - $40 range. These wines are available in the Bay-Waveland area.
Deal: Gerard Bertrand Cote des Rosé 2015. Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah; dry.
Splurge: Chateau d'Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé. Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Rolle; dry.