I am a very loyal person, but every summer, I have a passionate affair. Somewhere amidst my springtime devotion to Austrian whites and my autumnal allegiance to northern Italian reds, my eye starts to wander and I fall head-over-heels in love with rosé. As soon as I see its blushing, come-hither hue on the shelves, I become powerless to do anything but drink as many different examples as time and social norms allow.
Wine’s equivalent of fashion’s white pants, the season for rosé is short-lived and fraught with dissenters. Still maligned from its unfortunate resemblance to White Zinfandel, rosé has only recently begun to redeem itself among the general public. And although, with me and most other wine geeks, it never fell out of favor, I don’t want to fuss over it. In fact, anyone caught analyzing the taste of a rosé should have his glass taken away immediately. Rosé should not be scrutinized any more than that fling with that Italian waiter should be scrutinized (even if a bottle of rosé was involved); rather, it is purely for pleasure at that precise moment. Everyone seems to have a sensual tale of drinking rosé overlooking some oneiric vista. With a faraway look in their eye, they conjure up every sight, sound, smell, touch and taste of the memory. Rosé is not saved for a special occasion; it is the special occasion. Rosé is whimsy and instant gratification in a glistening, sunlit glass.
French for “pink,” rosé is a term used to describe all wines of this color. Typically, rosé is made from pressing red grapes and then leaving the juice and skins to macerate (i.e., hang out) for two to three days. The lighter the color, the shorter they hang out; the darker the color, the longer they hang out. And what explains the varying levels of sweetness? Without getting too in depth (I’d like to keep my glass, please), a winemaker may choose to halt the fermentation process before all of the grapes’ sugars have turned into alcohol, leaving a percentage of residual sugar.
FOUR WAYS TO DRINK PINK:
Tegernseerhof Zweigelt Rosé 2008, Wachau, Austria. Market Street Wineshop – $11.99.
Mas de la Dame Les Baux-de-Provence Rosé du Mas 2007, Provence, France. Tastings – $19.99.
Renzo Masi Poggerissi Rosato 2008, Tuscany, Italy. Mona Lisa Pasta – $9.99.
White Hall Vineyards Vin Gris 2007, White Hall, Virginia. White Hall Vineyards – $9.99.
Translation? A good rosé should be dryer than a Capri Sun and sweeter than Earl Grey with the inherent fruitiness of its grapes and the zippy acidity of a Sour Patch Kid. Be still my beating heart!
So, stop and smell the rosés! Be the jet-setting, indiscriminate flirt you’ve always wanted to be. Flit from region to region, grape to grape, and producer to producer. And, know that whatever summertime favorite is on the table, rosé is always the perfect dining companion—oozing with the charm of…well, that Italian waiter.
Could rosé be too good to be true? Perhaps, or maybe it just doesn’t stick around long enough to reveal its flaws. At the end of the summer, it fades into that proverbial sunset, leaving you with wistful memories, taste buds whetted, always wanting more.