Pink is in, I swear!
It?s officially summertime. Well, for me it is, down in Florida. Sorry to rub it in. For all you Northerners you still have a little time to go, although there have been some beautiful days scattered here and there. Which brings me to ponder?.What is it about the seasons that change our wine preferences? What type of wine does summertime call for?
Don?t you find light, dry, crisp and flavorful whites to be much more invigorating on a hot summer day? The same applies during the arctic New England winter, when those dark, rich, deep, brooding Syrahs or Cabernets can really put some meat on your bones. I don?t think that the seasons or weather necessarily dictate that you should drink white in the summer and red in the winter though. It all depends on what you like. For me, summertime and sitting outside on the deck, or being at the beach watching the sunset prompts me to enjoy the most overlooked wine of all. ROS?!
Ros? is still having difficulty getting past the reputation that was created for it in the mid 70?s and 80?s. That was when Sutter Home and E&J Gallo paved the way for sweet pink wine with their jug ?Pink Chablis? and White Zinfandel. Even though that was years ago, the American consumer still automatically associates ros? with sweet, cheap, pink jug wine. The Spaniards didn?t help either, giving ros? a bad name amongst their fellow countrymen, by putting ros? on the back burner to their great Tempranillos and Grenaches. Luckily in France, particularly southern France & Provence, ros? has always been the pride and joy of winemakers and wine drinkers alike. Their contagious enthusiasm is now spreading rapidly like wildfires throughout the world.
Fashionably speaking, pink has been in for a few years and unfortunately in the U.S. it is only recently that ros? has even been an inkling in the consumer?s repertoire. Why is ros? such a hard sell? It is a great medium between red and white wine, with refreshingly juicy flavors of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon and hints of spices. Its extreme versatility with cuisine and ability to literally quench your thirst on a hot day is reason enough.
Let?s be clear on one thing though, when I refer to ros? I am not speaking of anything with the word ?white? in the title. White Zinfandel, white Merlot, white OUT! What I am referring to is what the Italians call ?Rosato?, the Spanish call ?Rosado? and what is also occasionally referred to as ?vin gris?, or grey wine.
Ros? can range in color from apricot to salmon, pale pink to a non-opaque magenta. It all depends on the grape(s) used and how long the juice stayed in contact with the skins before being drained off to ferment. This is called the saign?e method, one of two methods to make ros?. This ?skin contact?, or maceration, is necessary to give ros? both its color and flavor. Tannins, that dry tactile sensation associated with big reds, and color both come from the amount of time that the juice spends macerating and fermenting with the grape skins, stems, seeds and pips.
Traditionally, ros?s are usually made from a single, light press of red grapes and then left in contact with the skins anywhere from hours to a few days at the most. The wine is then drained off after the short maceration to ferment. This results in a wine that marries the vibrant freshness of a white wine with the color, flavors and tannins of a red wine. The most common grapes used for ros? are Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Cinsault, Counoise, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir.
Interestingly enough, the saign?e method was originally used as a means to create more flavorful and intense red wines. Once the wine intended to be ros? was drained off, there would be a higher skins to juice ratio. This ?leftover? juice was actually the initial focus of the winemaker. With less juice in the tank the resulting unfermented wine had more opportunity to gain color, flavor and the potential to be a great red wine. It?s crazy to think that making ros? was only the means to an end.
There has been a paradigm in the way ros? is made now though. Winemakers are still using the saign?e method, however they are ?bleeding? off all of the wine focusing their efforts entirely on ros?. Grapes are being picked specifically for it. There are even producers who specialize in making only ros?. No longer does ros? have the back seat. Now if only consumers would realize what they have been missing out on we could have a full blown ros? revolution on our hands. Maybe we?re not quite ready for that though!
A few tips on ros?.
- Only drink the freshest available, unless it?s vintage ros? champagne. That?s an entirely different subject and article!
- The darker the color, the more it is going to taste like the full blown red version of the grape(s) that it is made from.
- It?s great with Asian flavors & dishes, especially sushi.
For all you ros? lovers I thought this would be a fun way to test your knowledge. Match the region with the primary grape or grapes used for making ros?.
e. Colchagua Valley
i. Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault
j. Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon
k. Pinot Noir
l. Cabernet Franc
m. Grenache, Mourvedre, Counoise
Answers after the jump!
A & L, B & K, C & M, D & I, E & N, F & H, G & J