Saturday, July 24, 2010

A Rosé Wine Tasting

I admit it, I am a visual person. When I look at all of the shades of the pretty pink colors of rosé wine, I swoon. The flavors aren't generally too complex, and I try to stay with a Bordeaux or Grenache and avoid anything sweet. We're well into rosé season during this hottest summer on record worldwide. I've been collecting rosé wine from my trips to Paris where the choices are many and sometimes confusing. Some of the red Bordeaux I normally buy are translated into a rosé during the summer. My friend and colleague, Lisa Magnuson, of the Boston Wine Examiner explains the basics of rosé in her post, Rosé Wine Simply Defined.

"What is Rosé wine? Simply put, it is a pink wine. However, nothing in the wine world is truly simple. Although rosé literally translates to “pink,” the colors range from off-white to deep strawberry. Often the color depends on the type of grapes that are used as well as the method of production.

Rosé wines can range from very sweet like a white zinfandel to bone dry such as the rosés found in the Cotes-de-Provence. Most wine drinkers agree that the drier rosés exhibit more complexity and structure. Blush wines like white zinfandel and white merlot tend to be sweeter and one-dimensional. However, all the styles fare well with a wide variety of foods and are great with barbeque and Asian-style cuisine.

Although any red skin wine grape can create a pink colored wine, the most common grapes used to produce rosé are:

Pinot Noir

There are three methods of production:

Skin contact is the most common method. Red grapes are crushed with the skins, but the juice only remains in contact with the skins for about 48 hours (more or less). Then the skins are discarded as the juice ferments.

Saignée (bleeding of the vats) is when a winemaker releases juice from the wine vat (tank used after the crush) to give red wine a darker color. The lighter (pinker) juice that is removed is then fermented separately from the darker (redder) juice.

Blending is the method you have seen at a party. It is where white wine and red wine are mixed together. Although it can make for some interesting blends at home, winemakers discourage its use. Professionally, the rare time it is used is to make a sparkling rosé."

I often refer to Lisa with wine questions and I have learned a lot through her articles. So now it was time to try a few of these beautiful pink wines. My next door neighbor came over for a tasting last month on a warm summer evening. The wines looked like pink jewels in the setting sun. The wine accompanied by fresh goat cheese drizzled with basil olive oil, crusty French bread and red, ripe cherries transported us to the South of France where days are hot and slow. We first opened a Bordeaux rosé which was dry and if not complex, it was pleasant and refreshing. I had gotten an organic wine from Spain that was interestingly described as having a hint of strawberry. We agreed that the strawberry flavor was too much in the front and maybe would be good for a dessert wine. The Grenache and the Fronton were very dry with hints of berry. As with any wine tasting, the nuances in flavor are more pronounced when they are tasted side by side. We decided rosé is the perfect summer wine and that we we loved them all ♥ Á santé!

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Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

Thanks to Peter Mayle, whenever I see rosé, I think A Year in Provence! It's the pretty pink that makes it so elegant and appealing. :)

Karen @ Mignardise said...

I love a glass of cold rose on a hot summer day. I've got a bottle chilling at home now!
As always, beautiful photos.

Deana Sidney said...

Rosé got so much bad press years ago. I think it's too bad because there are lovely rosé wines, as you have shown. They are light and refreshing. I am making a wonderful French recipe with one next weekend... hope there's a little left over for a drink! And as Ju said... that color can't be beat. Thanks for the virtual tasting!

Thibeault's Table said...

What a wonderful photo. Love the variation in the colours of the different Roses. Another lovely post.

Have I told you how much I love your blog?

tasteofbeirut said...

I just started drinking some rosé recently and enjoyed it a lot; your pictures are beautiful and mouthwatering, and the tips on different wines very useful.