There’s no need to be ashamed of drinking rosé. Bristol Bar & Grille Master Sommelier Scott Harper believes wine drinkers of all levels should embrace rosé, especially during warmer weather months. He hopes to convince you to add it to your collection as the wine of summer.
A few years ago I was in Sonoma Valley with some close friends. We met at brunch before a big day of winery visits. Sitting outside on a beautiful, but warm day the wine list was in my hands. I looked over the wine list and found what I thought was the perfect wine for a warm mid-day meal, rosé. The server brought a dry rosé and my friends cringed! I explained immediately not to fear. I clarified the wine was not sweet or white zinfandel. I told them a blend of grapes fermented dry created the wine. It would be the perfect “quarter” on this warm day. It would go with the wide range of foods we were about to enjoy.
With great skepticism, my friends tasted the wine. They generally thought the wine was refreshing, crisp and inviting. They gave me a hard time for humor’s sake, because that’s what friends are for. Then the group of wine aficionados all acknowledged they only tried it because it sat in front of them. As a result, several of them now drink rosé regularly in the summer. The moral of this story is not to judge a wine by its color. Rosé can be a delicious refreshing wine. Admittedly sweet insipid rosés or white zinfadels cause confusion about other offerings.
The art of making rosé
Red grapes compose rosés. For the most part, skins of red grapes contain the color and pigments. In red wine production, the grape juice stays in contact with their skins for an extended period of time. This imparts the red color. In rosé wine production, wine makers limit the time the skins stay in contact with the juice. This imparts a slight rose to darker rose color. Depending on the desired style, makers remove the skins before the color becomes too dark and before tannins impart too much of their astringent quality. While there are many ways to make rosé wine, it generally comes down to managing the skin-to-juice time and ratio.
The celebrated heartland of rosé is Provence, France and the country’s southeastern region on the Mediterranean makes a huge amount of rosé. It is adjacent to Italy and located amidst the famous cities of Marseille, Saint Tropez and Cannes. With all of that tourist power, it is easy to know where a lot the wine goes. The name of Provence itself conjures up fields of lavender, sunflowers, the Mediterranean Sea and the great gastronomy of this sun-drenched area that is hot and dry in the summer. Consequently, the winters are mild. There is no less than 315 days of sunshine a year. With the great climate, it is hard not to make a wine that goes well with it. Rosé truly is the wine of summer.
Within the area of Provence is the largest wine region. The Côtes de Provence offers a lighter color compared to other French rosés. It typically will have copper hues and pale rose color with orange highlights. A blend of grapes such as Grenache, Cinsaut, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Clairette makes up the wine. Rosé represents 75 percent of the region’s wines. You want to be sure to drink Côtes de Provence and rosés young and fresh. Generally speaking, you should drink a rosé between one and three years of age. After that the cherished and vivacious fresh fruit could sadly diminish. Also, enjoy the wine chilled at 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit or out of the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes.
Rosé to drink now
Côtes de Provence rosés are likeable, easy on the pocketbook and great aperitifs or accompaniments to Salad Niçoise, Mediterranean preparations of grilled fish and roasted poultry. All are perfect dishes for a hot summer day, once again reinforcing rosé as the wine of summer.
Côtes De Provence Sables D’Azur Gassier 2015
A pale rose-copper colored wine. It is a light, dry and crisp “quaff” of a Rosé. Fruity red flavors of strawberry, cherry, melon that are fresh and persistent. Made from a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. The Gassier family has worked the vineyards for five generations in France.
Côtes De Provence Corail Chateau De Roquefort 2015
A pale Rosé with hints of copper and coral. It is dry, light to medium bodied and taut with crisp, zesty acidity, melon, cherry, raspberry, apple and a light whiff of dried Provençal herbs. Made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsaut, Syrah and Clairette. The wine is a family’s estate wine that until 1995 sold as bulk wine, until Raimond de Villeneuves started bottling and improving the wine and calling it Chateau de Roquefort.