ROSḖ WINE: OUR ENDLESS CRUSH

Describes content of post on rose wine.
Rosé Wine. Our endless crush.

The 2019 Season of Rosé has arrived. Maybe we owe the rise of rosé to the Millennial Pink trend. However, more likely, it’s the re-branding and marketing of pink wine by Madison Avenue that catapulted rosé into our everyday vocabulary.  While this hue of wine is the go-to in social media, rosé is actually one of the oldest methods of wines made!   We are on the cutting edge of ancient technology.

Rosé wines can be either sparkling or still, sweet or dry.  Today our tastes go toward the dryer versions.

So, what is rosé wine?  

It’s a global winemaker style of wine made from red wine grapes such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, Grenache, or a blend of grapes. Essentially any red wine grape can be vinified into rosé.  The red wine grape that thinks it will be a bold red wine is suddenly cut short during its fermentation to be born as rosé.

Rosé Wine comes in many shades of pink to ruby.
50 Shades of Rosé

Do we know the way to rosé (winemaking)? Yes.

 Limited Maceration – This is the most popular manner.  The colors of rosé are determined by the grape, but mostly by the winemaker.  The fruit is first left to macerate (soaking) on their skins – anywhere from a few hours to only few days.  The winemaker is looking for a hue that pleases.  What fun to keep checking until you feel you have the absolutely most stunning pink, salmon, coppery tone!  The juice is then drained from the skins and moved into a fermenting tank, usually stainless steel.  From this point the red wine grape juice (which is now pink-ish) is fermented like white wine rather than red.

 Saignée –This is the French word for “bleeding”. This process is not only used to make rosé, but also red wine. In ancient times this is how red wine was made. Early in the maceration process, the winemaker will “bleed” off some of the grape juice and vinify that to make rosé.  This produces a richer, darker colored style of rosé.  The juice left in the fermenter continues along to make a fully red wine as now it has less juice-to-grape skins and is therefore concentrated.

Direct Press – Similar to the maceration, however, the grapes are pressed immediately to remove the skins. The skin contains the pigment so no matter how fast you press out the juice and remove the skins there’s still a touch of color.  This process creates the lightest, almost white wine in color rosés of all.  The taste will be more towards citrus and strawberry.

Why can’t you just blend already finished red and white wine together to make rosé?

That wouldn’t be true rosé.  This is called a “blush wine”.  In fact in Europe the PDO prohibits post fermentation wines to be blended together.

Platter of meats, cheeses, olives, nuts and fruits
Rosé Wine pairs perfectly with almost any food.

What food goes with rosé wine?

 Rosé is famous for being poolside and food friendly.  The fruity aromas and flavors of the wine create pairings of great pleasure, or can be enjoyed on their own.  The fruitier versions of rosé are especially good with spicy or BBQ foods.  The dryer ones can go with everything from sushi to grills.

  • BBQ or grilled meats and vegetables
  • Rich, slightly sweet sauces
  • Roasted or grilled fish or chicken
  • Shrimp and other shellfish
  • Sushi and Sashimi
  • Spicy Hunan Food
  • Thai Food
  • Southern Indian Dishes
  • Salads
  • Fruit Salads
  • Creamy cheeses
  • Nutty cheeses
  • Olives
  • Nuts
  • Deviled Eggs
  • Jamon Crudo or Prosciutto
  • Figs
  • Stone fruits
Is Rosé Wine Age Worthy?
Very few Rosé Wines are age-worthy, so drink now.

Can rosé wines be aged like red wines?

 Wine that ages means storing it in a bottle for a number of years, allowing the wine to improve.  Rosé isn’t particularly made for aging, but rather for pulling the cork or cracking the screw-top right now.  One exception would be the wines from the region of Bandol in France, in Provence.  Here the winemakers use the local grape, Mourvèdre.This grape is known for its ability to age.   Rosé wines made in Bandol are high quality and can age for as much as a decade.

In the search for the “new, new”and the upcoming trends, winemakers globally are experimenting with  rosé in oak barrels and making some rosés that can age.  For tonight – I’m not waiting, I’m icing down a bottle and pulling the cork or cracking the top, pouring and enjoying with creamy cheese, stone fruit and a pulled pork sandwich!

What will you have with your rosé?

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Contributor:  Stacie Hunt, Certified Silver Pin Sommelier/AIS, Vice President National Association of Wine Retailers, International Wine Judge, Author, Spokesperson and Educator.

Image Credits: Image #1: www.Matthew Clark.co.uk; Image #2: Decanter Magazine; Image #3: www.delallofoods.com; Image #4: www.mylondonnews.co.uk

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