Question 4: Good Rosés?
Rosé wines seem to be considered by many as slightly inferior or “naff”. Can you recommend a good rosé? And what goes well with rosé food-wise?
Dear Michael – Great question, and thank you for asking.
Rosés are NOT for wusses!! Unfortunately, this idea was perpetuated by the mad popularity of white zinfandel from the US, and Mateus from Portugal – making so many of us think that all pink = sweet. But nothing could be further from the truth. Rosé wines have been made in the Loire Valley and the South of France for hundreds of years, and these are almost always crisp, dry and refreshing wines, drunk frequently in the summers as an alternative to too-heavy reds.
Contrary to the belief of some, a rosé wine is not created by blending together a white and a red. 🙂 There are two ways to get a rosé wine, and mixing white+red is not one of them. In red wines, the rich colour comes from long term exposure to the skins while the wines ferment. If the skin contact is limited to only a brief period of time, the colour will not be as intense. Hence, pink instead of red. Sometimes, however, a red wine and a rosé are created from the same batch of grapes fermenting. The process is called saignée, or bleeding. If the winemaker wants to create a rich red wine with lots of colour and tannin, he or she will bleed off some of the juice, or must, in the vats, reducing the volume of wine left and thus making the skin contact stronger for the must that remains there. Then the juice that is bled off gets fermented separately as a rosé wine. Sounds like win-win wine-wine to me.
Happily, rosé wines have been gaining in popularity in the past few years – in fact it was the feature “grape” at last year’s Vancouver wine festival. I attended a seminar in which we enjoyed 12 rosé samples from all around the world, created from grapes as diverse as Pinot Noir to Malbec – all this prior to 10:00 am. Fantastic stuff! The popular French approach, however, typically uses Grenache or Cinsault grapes from the south. Sometimes now it’s Syrah or Mourvedre. For a quality rosé, look to those who have been doing it for a long time, such as the Tavel region in the Southern Rhone Valley. My own favorite is M Chapoutier’s Beaurevoir Rosé.
Just as rosé is a lighter style wine, it does best with lighter fare. Think fish, salade nicoise, or crudités with Boursin cheese dip. Yum. You’ve made me yearn for summer’s return…