This toasty time means something different to everyone, but to me, what it means is Rosé season! Pink wine, in all its festive hues and flavors, will be gracing my glass from now until fall.
The beauty of the dry Rosé (yes, I said dry. I'm not talking about your mom's sweet pink stuff here) is that it's the perfect summer wine. With intoxicating aromas of honeysuckle and roses, the soft, subtle flavors of watermelon and strawberry, and a temperature that's refreshingly cold . . . what's not to love?
Unfortunately, pink wines tend to get a bad rap in this country. Back in the day, the production of White Zinfandel still makes us think that pinks are sickeningly sweet. But let's face it, many of us began our wine-drinking days with that very same White Zin, although our mature palate today may prefer a nice dry white or red. And the truth is, most Rosés today have very little, if any, residual sugar, so they're a lot closer in style to your fave white or red than you may think.
Rosés typically begin their life like a red wine. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the extracted grape juice is left soaking with the dark skins. But here's the catch: instead of leaving the juice with the grape skins for the extended amount of time needed to extract all of the flavors and colors necessary to make a red wine, the juice is left in contact with the skins for a very short period - perhaps only a few hours or days. This way, only some of the beautiful red colors and deep flavors seep into the juice. The wine then is finished off as if it was a white wine - fermented and bottled and served deliciously cold. The result is the perfect marriage of all that is good about red and white wines - together in one happy, pink glass.
Although usually fermented dry (which, in wine terms, is the opposite of sweet), Rosés often have beautifully aromatic and fruity qualities. They are found in every part of the wine-making world, and can be made from just about any black grape, with some of the more common being Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Malbec and Cabernet Franc. From the palest of pink in Provence, to the light salmon and bubblegum hues in California and Oregon, to the deep hot pinks of Spain and Argentina – all have their own unique flavor profiles.
Some drink delightfully light, and are just a small step up from your favorite white wine. Others are bold and savory, perfect pinks for red wine drinkers. Either way, their easy, middle-of-the-road style lends them perfectly to food pairing. You won't find a better match for grilled salmon, chicken, salads, light pastas. . . just about anything! And of course, they're best for just lounging lazily on hot summer nights on the patio.
Whatever pink is your pleasure, I urge you to explore the world of dry Rosés. I promise there's a pink for you!