Everything’s Coming Up Rosés

 

By Brian Flannery, Schaefer’s Wine Team & Phone Honcho

Clear the decks! Clear the tracks! You’ve got nothing to do but relax. It’s practically summer and the nice weather has arrived. For us, that means chilling a bottle of our favorite pink wine and sitting out on the patio with the grill and listening to music.

Now let’s analyze that last paragraph to see how many readers we’ve scared off, and why. It’s frightening enough to start off with a show tune, but when there’s a mention of pink wine, a lot of people are going to think we’re talking about a sweet White Zinfandel.

With the imminent arrival of summer, it’s the season of the chilled beverages of choice, and today we give our nod to that pale red wine known as rosé. And by rosé we mean dry rosé, with lovely fruit and crispness but without the residual sugar that one might find in a similarly looking liquid most commonly known as a blush wine. So, let’s put aside all our fears of White Zinfandel and even our fond recollections of our first taste of Lancer’s or Mateus, and consider what the world of rosé has to offer us today.

Pink Wine 101

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What makes a rosé a rosé? When grapes are crushed or pressed, the juice is basically clear. The pigment in the skins themselves is what imparts the color. So when a typical red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot is produced, the juice will stay in contact with the grapes skins for several hours, if not days, to extract that deep, rich color. Rosés only see a few hours of skin contact. This gives the wine that pale salmon color while retaining all the freshness you would expect from a rosé.

The four most commonly used approaches to producing rosé wines are bleeding, pressing, maceration and run off.

Saignée or bleeding is used to make the best quality rosés. Juice is obtained letting the grapes own weight do the crushing.  Since the juice is in contact with the skins only for a short time, the rosé wine obtained through this technique has a pale color. Rosés made through bleeding are rich, fruity and have great freshness.

Pressing is the technique of pressing the red grapes until the juice has the desired color. Once the desired color has been attained, the winemaker stops pressing.

Limited maceration is the most commonly used technique. The skins are left in contact with the juice until the winemaker is happy with its color.  This juice, minus the skins, is then transferred to another tank to finish fermentation.

Run off is the process involved when the winemaker removes juice from the tank of fermenting red wine; this juice is used to make the rosé wine.  The run off process results in a darker/more intense red wine.

What Do You Mean ‘Fruity’?

It is difficult to put into words the sensations offered as you enjoy a really well made wine. It is an experience well beyond words, but everybody wants to talk about it, like we can place this experience somewhere on a flavor wheel. Case in point: While I was putting together these words last night, I had a glass of the Olivares Jumilla Rosé, wonderfully complex and nicely structured, with deep color, light spice and bone dry. If you read the back label, it says “a blend of 70% Monastrell and 30% Syrah gives richness and structure to this fresh, fruity rosé.” Wine people love to describe the fruit in a wine, or the fruitiness of their wine, assuming that the public understands that this is wine geek lingo for a really dry wine.

Rosé & Food Pairing

“Rosé can be served with anything.” – Julia Child

Because rosé has one foot in the white wine world and one in the red world, the possibilities for perfect food pairings skyrocket. Quiches, salads, ratatouille, hummus, grilled foods, spicy foods and just about anything that says summertime.

Schaefer’s Rosé Starter Kit

Looking at our selection of rosés, we seem to have more than ever before, with an impressive selection of countries to choose from: Spain, Italy, Chile, South Africa, Oregon, California and most famously, France. There are rosés of Pinot Noir, Malbec, Cabernet and Sangiovese as well as the more traditional Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

The only way to learn about them is to dive right in, and I guarantee there is not a bad one in the bunch. Here are a few suggestions you should consider:

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Bieler Père et Fils Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2012, France – $10.97

A blend of 50% Syrah, 30% Grenache and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, it is a soft cranberry-red in color with a gorgeous nose of raspberry, wild strawberry and spicy minerality. It is beautifully crisp on the palate with medium body and notes of red berries, bing cherries, spice and no oak. The finish is long and refreshing.

Olivares rose

 

Olivares Rosado 2011, Jumilla, Spain – $9.97

There is wonderful depth in this lip-smacking, cherry-scented Monastrell and Syrah blend. Nothing delicate or subtle here! This will match up well with heartier grilled fare no doubt.

 

Hogwash Rosé 2012, California – $14.97

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Reminiscent of a southern French rosé, this blend from two Beckstoffer vineyards offers aromas of wet stone, strawberry, watermelon rind and hints of jasmine, rosé pedal and honeysuckle. Most elegant.

 

 

The Sounds of Summer: Matching Rosé to Music

Groovin’ by the Young Rascals, Summer of 1967

We’ll keep on spending sunny days this way

We’re gonna talk and laugh our time away

I feel it coming closer day by day

Life would be ecstasy, you and me endlessly

Groovin’ on a Sunday afternoon. . .

Take It Easy by The Eagles, Summer of 1972

Lighten up while you still can

Don’t even try to understand

Just find a place to make your stand

Take it easy. . .

Do It Again by the Beach Boys, Summer of 1968

Well I’ve been thinking ‘bout

All the places we’ve surfed and danced and

All the faces we’ve missed so let’s get

Back together and do it again. . .

 

 

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