The War of The Roses

By:  Stacie Hunt – Sommelier
Contributor’s Website:  Splash Pros

It was full-on war: The traditionalists against the opportunists. Fermentation tanks standing as solemn sentries in wineries; bottling machines lined up at attention, furious winemakers on both sides of the argument awaiting a vote by the EU (European Union) defining how rosé could be made.

Tucked in between the headlines covering other global wars was the bloody pink battle to determine how the star of spring and summer wines was to be made from this day forth. The war zone centered on the EU (Eureopean Union) plan to allow rose to be made by “blending” red and white wines together to create a blush-colored wine.  Rosé is not a chick-flick wine. While some regions of the world may produced a more fruity version, by far the most popular is a wine that has a strawberry or raspberry nose, followed by the taste of berries and herbs, with a crisp acidity and a bone dry finish. This makes the wine perfect for either quaffing or pairing with spring and summer meals of any heft, from salads to grilled meats.  Yes, real men drink rosé.

Traditionally, real rosé wine is made from the red wine grapes that deliver the medium and full bodies red wines, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Carignane, Sangiovese and Tempranillo. All grape juice is essentially colorless and what makes a red wine red is the length of time the grape juice is kept on the skins which contains the pigment. This process is called maceration. To make a rosé wine, the juice is only kept in contact with its skins for a few hours or days. If the wine were to become a fully red wine, this process takes much longer.

This slight contact between the juice and the skins is what gives rose its unique color, ranging from light pink to salmon, to light ruby. Once the juice is separated from the skins, the fermentation follows the same methods as for white wine. The resultant wine is a the color of the summer sunset, with red fruit and berry freshness and the crisp finish of a dry white wine. This is the allure of rosé.

The cheaper and quicker way to make a blush wine is the blending process. In this process, white wine is used as a base, which is then colored by blending in red wine until the desired color is achieved. The result is a wine that may look like a rosé, but neither smells nor tastes like the real thing. In other words it is a “faux rosé”.  While this is a legitimate style of wine, it cannot be called rosé. The downmarket producers wanted to be able to use the name, but has always been banned by the EU. Battles lines clearly drawn.
Some stats: rosé accounts for about 8% of the planet’s annual production of wine. France leads the world (about 12% of its entire production) and often imports from Italy and Spain to keep up with local demand. Quality-wise, France sets the bar for rosé.
Italy is second largest in production with USA and Spain tied for third. France consumes the most per person, but the US has eclipsed Italy for second place in swallowing.

With the demand for this blushing pride of winemakers, the EU said it would lift the Blending Ban and allow members of the EU to blend and call it rosé. This would mean that France and other EU countries could now compete with cut-rate rosé producers from South Africa, China and Australia.

Traditional winemakers were enraged. Then in a move rarely seen, the EU Agriculture Commission caved to the worldwide outcry. This is a huge win for quality and artisanship over globalization and profits.  It also shows you can fight City Hall.  There are rosé produced for every season but it’s in spring and summer where the wine delivers the most pleasure.  Rosé is best enjoyed young, very cold and sipped when the sky turns the same color as the liquid in your glass.

Here are some examples of the spoils of this war to kick off the 2011 Season:

Petale de Rosé, Provence $14.99
St. Tropez du Golfe, Provence (the fave of Cannes!) $11.99
Guerrouane Gris de Rosé, Morocco $9.99
Castello d’Ama Rosato, Tuscany $18.99
Pali Rosé, Santa Barbara County
Austin Hope Rosé, Paso Robles
Candor Rosé, Paso Robles

Announcement: A special webcast featuring a virtual tasting and pairing is coming up on May 4th!

I invite you to join with me in celebrating the art of pairing fine wines with regional Italian foods; an art Bertolli always keeps in mind when creating and preparing their meals! To bring this authentic experience to life, Bertolli is creating a virtual wine tasting and pairing on Wednesday, May 4 at 7pm CST. I will lead the pairing and tasting.

Bertolli has provided 5 wine tasting kits so you can follow along with me as I guide you through the tasting process, allowing you to truly define the variety of flavors found in Italian wines and how they complement an array of delectable Italian meals. You will also get the full story of Italian wines and even a few great tips for using them in cooking – the complete ambiente!

The wine tasting kit will include:
– Stainless Steel Wine Aerator
– Rebate for a Bottle of Cavit Italian Wine
– Wine Bottle Foil Cutter
– Tasting certificate for your favorite Bertolli Frozen Meal
– Coupon for a free Bertolli Sauce

During the event, everyone will be able to comment and ask questions. For those seasoned pros, you can also chime in with your expert knowledge! Joining is easy, just visit this link.  Click on the “Check-in and Chat” button, login with your Twitter or Facebook account and tweet us using #Bertolli. Let us know what you’re most excited about and we will give you a shout out at the beginning of the event.

The first 5 who write to me at: info@splashpros.com will receive a free Bertolli Tasting Kit.

Enjoy our new Facebook page.  Click “Like” to become a fan.

Contributor’s Website:  Splash Pros

Image credits:  Iclipart

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