Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Bonjour, Mon Rosé!

Rosé is a wine of celebration!

Provençal Rosé with fresh spring salad
After a long dreary winter, it is always a joy to welcome sunshine and warmth with a bottle of Rosé. I especially love a dry Provençal or Provence-style Rosé, slightly chilled and shared with friends on the patio, or on the beach. Being light and fruity in palate, Rosés go well with most summer fare - cantalope slices wrapped with prosciutto, spring mix salad with a light mustard vinaigrette, and cheeses. Or if you want to be totally Provençal, pair it with your favorite vegetables and shellfish dipped in rich garlicky aioli.

Rosé is a French term for pink wine, that is well beloved in the States. In Italy, it is called Rosato; and in Spain, it is called Rosado. In a London bistro, I would order a bottle of Blush.

Contrary to some belief, Rosé is not made by blending white and red wines, except in the case of a pink Champagne. But a still pink wine is made using black grapes (or grapes that typically produce red wine) with a much shorter skin contact than one would for making red wine. That way, it significantly reduces the extraction of anthocyanins, or color pigments from the skin, rendering it pink.

To be technical, there are different ways to make Rosés, and they are rather nuanced.
Provence-Style Rosé from Brady Cellars

  • Short Maceration - This is the way to make Rosés with the sole goal of making Rosés, instead of a by-product. In this case, the winemaker crushes the black grapes and macerates them for a period of time. When the desired level of color and flavor is achieved, the juice is drained off from the crushed grapes and continues to ferment.
  • Vin d'une Nuit - This is French for "wine of a night." A simple short maceration approach, it means the juice is drained from the crushed grapes after a night. 
  • Saignée - Derived from the French word that means "bled," this is method is used when the winemaker is trying to kill two birds with one stone. After a short maceration period, the pink juice will be drained out, leaving the remaining juice to continue macerating with a higher ratio of skin contact. The pink juice is then made into a Rosé. The remaining juice will have a deeper color and flavor by the time it is made into a still red wine. This is well-practiced in the States as the Rosé will be released early to bring cash flow to the winery while the remaining red wine continues to mature and age.
  • Doble Pasta - This yummy-sounding approach comes from Spain although it is hardly intuitive. This is similar to Saignée in that a red wine and a pink wine will be produced. The difference is that two vats are used in this case. One vat is used to make a pink wine, and the skins will be transferred to the vat that is used to make the red.
My Verdict: There are different types of pink wine in the market. Pick something and try it. I tend to like a dry Grenache-based Rosé, hence my preference for a Provençal or Provence-style Rosé. And if your favorite small winery for red wine makes a nice Rosé, know that you are helping it by buying a bottle of the pink as well. Santé!