While rose’ wine has been around as long as wine has been made, it didn’t gain popularity in the United States until the 1970’s. Unfortunately, that was the beginning of a decades long period of cheap, sweet wine that could frequently be found at teenaged drinking parties. White Zin was in its glory days. That style was painfully referred to as “Blush”. Well, reputations are hard to shake. Fifty years later, rose’ is still trying to clear its name, but it’s time to move on.
Let’s take a look at how rose’ is made. All grapes have white juice inside of them, even red grapes. Red wine becomes red when the grapes are crushed, and the juice of the grapes soaks with the red skins. The amount of time that the skins soak in the juice is a decision the wine maker will make. The time varies, but it’s usually somewhere between a week and a month. The longer the soak, the more of the skin’s pigments go into the juice. Now if the skins and the juice are separated after a very short period of time, perhaps eight hours, the wine becomes a pink or salmon color, and rose’ is born. This process, known as the saignee’ method, is considered the natural method in which most high quality rose’ is produced. Sparkling wines are also available in rose’, and frequently command a higher price than the white sparkling wine from the same producers. Champagne and Franciacorta are the two obvious examples.
There is another method to produce rose’ which is incredibly easy to do and only takes a few seconds. Simply take a white wine and pour a little red wine into.it. Instant Rose’! Of course, nothing done that quick and easy is ever going to produce the same quality as the saignee’ method, and is not what I would consider to be “real” Rose’. I’ve even seen customers order a glass of Rose’ at the bar, only to see an unscrupulous bartender quickly blend a red and white and serve it up.
Rose’ is often the wine of choice while relaxing on your back patio or sitting poolside, and it is certainly right at home in that setting. While it’s great to drink by itself, it also pairs nicely with a variety of food. Salads, which are notorious for being hard to pair with wine, are great with Rose’. In fact, most vegetables, including grilled vegetables will pair nicely. If you drink Pinot Noir with salmon, consider having a rose made from Pinot instead. Shrimp, soft cheeses, and bread can also be kicked up a notch with some rose’ to help them out. In general, think of Rose as a summertime wine is an excellent companion to light, summertime food.
Fortunately, great Rose’ is easy to find these days, and is frequently under $20 per bottle. It is produced all over the world. Look for bottles from France, specifically the Loire Valley, Tavel, Rhone, and Provence. Italy also has rose from many places, including Sicily, and Puglia. California has many great producers, but Sonoma is a good place to start. Not surprisingly, you will find the California Rose’ fruitier and bolder then the old world style. On occasion the fruitier style can be excessively fruity and come across as sweet. So buy a few bottles from everywhere and find out which ones suit your needs. You’ll be glad you did.