By Elspeth Brown
It never fails. Every time I have a Rosé wine offered by the glass, the first question I get is, “Is it sweet? I don’t drink pink wine because it is too sweet.” I always feel a personal victory if I can get customers to try a dry Rosé. Once they let that first sip slide down their throats, I wait for a big smile to pour over their faces letting me know that a beautiful wine took them by surprise. That’s when I know I’ve done my job.
Originally, when red wines were produced the juice was very similar to Rosé. Then after World War II, Portuguese producers Mateus and Lancers took over the market with sweet, sparkling Rosé. Afterwards, Americans invented “blush” wines like White Zinfandel, which is also commonly sweet. These days you can find dry Rosé wines produced all over the world, including Western North Carolina and South Africa. Some of the main areas where they are produced are Champagne, Provence, Loire Valley and Spain.
Rosé should be served slightly chilled so you can still taste the bright fruit flavors. The color can range from a very pale salmon to a dark pink, close to a Pinot Noir. Dry Rosé has a snappy, bright beginning and finish and offers flavors such as raspberry, cherry, strawberry, herbs and rose petals.
Contrary to popular belief, Rosé wine is not usually made by blending red and white juices. This practice is typically discouraged by wine makers and forbidden by law in France. Rosé is a wine that has had a short amount of contact with the skins of grapes during fermentation, around one to three days, to produce a pale pink color, not enough to qualify as a red wine. The longer the skins are left in with the juice, the darker the wine. Rosé can be produced from any grape as long as there is a short amount of contact with the grape skin.
My favorite style of Rosé is from the Provence region in southern France on the Mediterranean Sea. The light, salmon colored juice is delicate, slightly floral, and has a hint of cherries and strawberries, with some possessing a light lavender finish. Rosé accounts for half to almost two-thirds of the wine production in the Provence region. The primary grape is Grenache with usually at least one of the following grapes blended in: Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Carignane, and Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s the epitome of the perfect drink for a garden party. Rosé can also be wonderful paired with lighter dishes such as chicken, salad, seafood and BBQ; it’s a “food friendly” wine.
By the beginning of March and April, the newest, fresh vintages of Rosé are released. Spring is in full bloom and everyone is ready to shed the winter layers, get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Rosé is the perfect pairing to warm days, bright rays and any excuse to relax with friends and family.
Elspeth Brown is the owner of Maggie B’s Wine & Specialty Store, 10 C South Main Street in Weaverville. For information, visit MaggieBsWine.com or call 828.645.1111.