Congrats Chicago, it's officially summer! Time to beat the heat with crisp refreshing pink wine. I'm not talking about that sweet flabby wine labeled White Zinfandel. I'm talking about the pink juice that has made a fashionable comeback… rosé!
Rosé wines can be found at wine retail stores 365 days a year, but summer is by far the most popular time of the year to for rosé. It's fun, refreshing and goes with all types of foods coming off the grill.
Rosé is produced around in the world in all major wine regions and from all kinds of red grapes. Let's remember our wine 101 lesson:
1) The juice from a grape is clear
2) It's the skin of the grape that gives the color and tannin.
3) The longer the juice sits in contact with the skins, the more color it retains.
Rosé is (mostly) produced by allowing the juice to remain in contact with the skins for a short while before being pressed and then fermented into wine. This short contact gives the beautiful pink hue and adds fruit flavors like strawberry and watermelon. The wines are fully fermented resulting in a dry wine with alcohol content near 12-15%.
The most well-known rosé wines come from the southern regions of France. If you're new to the game, I'd start with a simple Cotes-du-Rhone rosé. These rosés have playful light red fruit flavors, floral aromas, minerality and subtle spice, with plenty of crisp acidity to stand up to grilled chicken, burgers and pork. One of my favorites is Domaine de la Mordoree's Cotes du Rhone Rosé "La Dame Rousse". This is a famous producer known for superb quality rose wines year after year.
If you want a rose with more body, depth, and complexity, then choose one from the Rhone appellation of Tavel. This region specializes in rose production and is sure to leave a lasting impression on your palate.
If it's more ripe fruit forward roses that you're after, look to warm climate new world countries like Chile, Argentina, Australia, and California. A favorite of mine this season is Alexander Valley Vineyards' dry Rosé of Sangiovese. Super juicy and delicious flavors of ripe strawberry, watermelon, and raspberry!
Perhaps the best fact about rose wines is the price. Most high quality rose wines retail for $10-$20, with some quality wines coming in under $10, and the "best of the best" being over $20.
A general rule of thumb with rosé is to drink them young while they're freshest. It's that crisp fresh acidity that lifts the fruit and makes them wonderful pairings with all those different foods you'll find at a backyard BBQ. Grilled meats, veggies, summer salads, cheeses… you name it and the rosé will compliment it.
I encourage you to have fun and experiment with buying as many different rose wines from different countries around the globe. I promise it will be a ton of fun under the sun and you won't be disappointed!