April is here and it is time to stock up on Rosé wine. Don’t stock too many bottles, just what you’re going to drink between now and November. Rosé wine does not keep.
Years ago, Rosé wine was a sugary sweet pink wine. Something the “ladies” might drink. Today’s Rosé wine tends to be usually dry and more complex. You can still find a sweet Rosé wine, but most of us are not drinking it. The dryness or the sweetness of any wine depends on the grape used to make the wine. If you’re looking for a dry Rosé wine, look for one that is made with a blend of grapes that include Pinot Noir, Syrah, or Grenache Grapes. I prefer my dry Rosé wine to come from France, or the Western United States (California, Oregon or Washington). As many of you readers have heard me say, my very favorite Rosé wine of all time is the Whispering Angel. Unfortunately, the Whispering Angel has priced itself out of my wine cellar. The last bottle I purchased was $20.99, which is more than I want to pay for a Rosé wine. There are many other lovely Rosé wines for the $10.99 to $14.99 price.
April is when the wineries start to distribute their Rosé wines to the public for purchase. It is for this reason, it is wise to stock up now because Rosé wines are a limited production. If you find a Rosé wine you like (and they are very yummy, especially during Spring and Summer), I recommend getting what you like during the month of April because they may not be available in May.
Rosé wine is made from a variety of grapes, generally red. The color of the wine ranges from pale peach to brilliant pink. The color is obtained by keeping the skin in contact with the juice, usually one to three days. The color is dependent on which grape is used and how long the skin is in contact with the juice. There is very little maceration in the making of a Rosé wine which in turn lends to a very short shelf life.
Rosé wine comes from various regions. Two of my favorite Rosé wine regions in France are Provence and Rhône. Rosés from this area are typically made from a blend of grapes including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault (among others), and have a color that runs from blush to salmon. The Provence wines are generally lighter in fruit notes and will pair well with almost everything you might eat in the warmer weather. I like to drink this wine alone, with light appetizers or with a light dinner (fish, chicken, salad). The Rhône wines are a little more robust, holding up to spicier foods and grilling, but also pairing beautifully with any fruit and cheese platter you would be serving on a warm Spring afternoon.
Rosés coming from the Northern reaches of Italy will have crispness and structure, but will still have the fruit notes of associated with a lighter wine. When you move to the Southern areas of Italy, you will get a more predominant sense of a fuller structure, not as crisp, and more fruit.
Spanish Rosé (Rosado) tends to be fuller, less fresh and crisp. Some are made with Garnacha and Tempranillo, others can be found that are made with Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. These will be darker in color and pair beautifully with red meat, grilled pork and smoked fish.
The United States is also making some very lovely varieties of Rosé wines. From Pinot Noir (Oregon) to Grenache blends (California), you will find many styles of Rosés coming from the United States. I love the Rosés made from Pinot Noir grapes. These have a more floral nose to them, think honeysuckle and bougainvillea, accompanied with fruit notes such as honeydew melon and lime. Drink these and enjoy with prosciutto, mustards and smoked cheeses.
You will find a large variance of pricing when buying Rosé wines. We recently found an enjoyable Pinot Noir Rosé wine from Germany called Zum. Yes, good Rosé wine can be found in Germany – who knew? This wine retails for about $10.00. You can usually find a nice Rosé wine in the $9.00 to $12.00 price range. You can also find the Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence, for $21.00 and Les Clans, Côtes de Provence, at the price of $65.00. Is the more expensive wine worth the price? Not sure. I do know that I enjoy the Whispering Angel, but I also enjoy my Zum. I think the preference is an individual choice.
Rosé wine is Rosé wine, it is not White Zinfandel, or Pinot Blanc – these are blush wines. Rosé typically starts out as a red grape that has been made pink by keeping the juice and the skin of the grape together for the amount of time it takes to turn the white grape juice pink. A Rosé wine can be still or bubbly, it can be dark or light. It can be dry or sweet – wow, how confusing can it get?
All you really need to know about Rosé wine is that it comes in many shades, and many styles. Dry to sweet, dark to light. Chill it and enjoy it. Find the type you like, whether it is from the Pinot Noir grape, the Grenache and Cinsault style or a Zinfindel/Merlot blend, keep an open mind. If you find a Rosé wine that you really enjoy, make note of the region and grape varieties in the wine, shop around, and you will find many others in that same region and style to add to your cellar.
The only bad thing about Rosé wines is they does not keep for more than a year, so you must drink them now, all of them. Now. Well, I guess that’s not such a bad thing after all. *****runs off to the cellar to grab a chilled Rosé ****