It’s time to forget any negative associations you may have with pink – unsubstantial, sickly sweet, and, well, unmasculine. Today’s pink wine is nothing like the memories you have of Boone’s Farm Strawberry Hill or your first glass of White Zinfandel. Rosé wines range from refreshing to robust, from patio quaffers to excellent food wines. And while it may not feel like summer – or even spring! – in Northeast Ohio, Rosé season is upon us, and it’s about time to toast with a glass of the pink stuff.
These Rosés are not sweet, but bone dry, and can vary in color from pastel pink to coral to nearly ruby red. Rosés are not white wine blended with red wine, a common misconception. Rather, they are wines made with red grapes using the “saignée” method, in which the juice has limited contact with the skins, and the length of the contact and varietal determine the intensity of its pink hue.
The most famous Rosés hail from France, in particular Provence. These wines are typically made with the traditional French grapes of Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Carignan. Wine critic Hugh Johnson famously referred to Provençal Rosés as “orange-tinted” and having the most appeal of the region’s wines.
Tavel, in the Rhone Valley, which produces only Rosés, is perhaps the most renowned Rosé region in France, with historical lore claiming that Kings Philip IV and Louis XIV deemed them their favorites. These wines, also made primarily of Grenache and Cinsault, are very structured and can even improve with age.
Outside of these regions, Rosés are now made everywhere, from Spain to California. Affordable options abound, and the 2010 vintage should be in stores soon. A perennial favorite is Bonny Doon’s Vin Gris de Cigare, and this review gives the just-released 2010 high marks. Bonny Doon focuses on Rhone varietals, and it’s exciting to see such high-quality wines for under $20. A bit further north, Washington’s Columbia Valley offers up another great Rosé value from Charles & Charles (Vintner Select and review of the 2009 vintage).
And just because it’s from France doesn’t mean it has to be pricey – there are plenty of affordable Rosés from Provence and the south of France that should be readily available in the Akron area. One favorite is the Mas de la Dame Rosé from Les Baux de Provence ($15.99, distributed by 55 Degrees). This salmon-colored wine is reminiscent of apricots and strawberries, but with a strong backbone of acidity to back up the fruitiness. Other fine choices from France include Bieler Père et Fils (Vanguard Wines) and Domaine de la Sangliere (European Wine Imports).
Rosés will also pair amazingly well with your summer cuisine – so drink up!