Holly Howell
August 12, 2010 | Holly Howell

Rosés Rule! - "Off The Beaten Path" - By Holly Howell

‘Tis the season for pretty pinks! While the weather is warm, there is no better time to experience the incredible thirst-quenching ability of the world’s dry Rosé wines.

Rosés are probably some of the most misunderstood wines on the shelves. For most Americans, our first taste of pink came in a sweet style by the name of White Zinfandel. Still one of the biggest selling wines in the U.S. today, “White Zin” is actually an exception to the rule. However, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. So, most people who prefer dry wines tend to shy away from anything pink.

The reality is that some of the driest and most sought after wines of Europe are pink in color, and they can make perfect accompaniments to a wide variety of foods. The traditional way of making a Rosé wine is to crush red grapes, and just allow the red skins a short time to sit with the juice so they absorb just a small amount of color. These wines are fruit-driven, but very dry on the palate. Loaded with crisp acidity, they can be mouthwatering and juicy. They can also come in every shade of pink you can imagine, from chartreuse to salmon to copper.

The region of Provence, France, is considered by many to be “Rosé heaven”. With the ideal Mediterranean climate, they produce a style of pink that the rest of the world continues to try to emulate. For a nice taste of Provence, look for Chateau Montaud Côtes de Provence ($11). Blended from three different red grapes (grenache, cinsault and syrah), this wine is loaded with red berry fruit and floral flavors. It is a great match to summer foods, and the decorative bottle shape makes for a lovely re-usable flower vase!

Outside of Provence, the French have a few other hidden gems in pink attire. The Loire Valley (further north), makes the famous Rosé d’Anjou wines from the red cabernet franc and gamay grapes. Try La Clotiere Rosé d’Anjou ($10) or Remy Pannier Rosé d’Anjou ($12) for a slightly more fruit driven and easy-drinking style. Excellent wines to take on a picnic, or serve with grilled fish dishes.

Even the famous region of Bordeaux (best known for its complex reds), has a signature pink. Chateau Penin Bordeaux Rosé ($13) is a blend of 50% merlot and 50% cabernet sauvignon grapes. This is truly an elegant pink with superb food-pairing abilities.

In Italy, pinks are called Rosatos. Falesco Vitiano Rosato ($12) from the province of Umbria is a total winner. Made from a unique blend of red grapes (merlot, sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and aleatico), this is ideal to serve with a summer caprese salad of tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil!

You can even find some stellar Rosé wines on American soil. Folie a Deux Menage a Trois Rosé ($14) from California, and Dr. Frank Dry Rosé ($14) from New York are both made in the drier European style. I find these wines to pair quite well with a sunny day, a lounge chair, and a nice pool.

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