Rosé season is coming up gang!
Actually, there really isn’t a “rosé season” per se; that’s just something we created in our collective minds. As if we can’t drink anything pink unless it’s spring or summer and the sun is shining. Nonsense! You probably drink white wine in the winter, right?! And many white wines are refreshing, just like rosé, and can be even lighter on the palate.
What is indisputable is that the new crop of rosés from the 2017 vintage are being released as we speak. Lots of pictures of pretty pink and peachy juice can be seen on Instagram, wobbling down the bottling line. It seems that anyone who has a wine label these days, considers it an obligation to make rosé.
Now that there is a veritable plethora of rosé options on your local wine retailer’s shelf, how in the world are you supposed to you decide? Besides the obvious strategies of buying by price and label (you know who you are), here are some things to consider:
– DRY OR SWEET. Are you looking for a dry rosé or a sweet rosé? Generally speaking, most quality rosés on the market today are dry. If you think you are looking for a sweet rosé, do you really mean sweet, or do you just mean “fruity”? If you want something sweet as cotton candy, then ask for that. If you want something with lots of tropical fruit, talk about it that way. If you favor floral, citrus and mineral characteristics, use those words. This will help get what you want.
– THE COLOR OF ROSÉ. It’s tempting to choose a rosé based on color, but don’t put too much emphasis on that. Darker rosés somehow give the impression that they are sweeter (Hey Kool-Aid!), which is not necessarily the case. More intensely colored rosés do, however, generally have more body because the juice of the grapes spends more time mingling with the skins. (The skin of the grape is what gives a wine color; in all but a very few cases, the pulp inside the grape is clear.) Grape variety can effect color as well. You would expect a rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon to be darker than a rosé made from Pinot Noir, because the skin of the Cabernet grape is darker. A good start is to think about a red wine grape that you like, and try a rosé made from that grape.
– METHOD TO THE MADNESS. If you want to get a little advanced, ask about how the rosé was made. In the Direct Press method, grapes are gently pressed until skins from the grapes turn the juice a pinkish color. When the desired color is attained, the juice is transferred to a tank to rest. Direct Press rosés commonly highlight floral characteristics and are delicate and aromatic. In the Saignée method, rosé is produced during the process of making red wine. At a very early stage in the red winemaking process (2 hours to a full day), some of the juice, which is starting to develop color, is bled off to make rosé. The remaining juice and grape skins will continue on to make red wine. These rosés tend to be less aromatic, rounder, and fruitier in flavor. Some rosés use a combination of the two methods.
– DOES AGE MATTER? Rosé wines can age. Let’s just get that out of the way so the wine geeks don’t cry foul on me. There are rosés from the Bandol region of France that age well, Spanish Rioja rosés that age well, and certainly rosé Champagnes that stand the test of time. Most rosés you’ll find in your local store, however, are going to be from the previous year’s vintage (2017), or one year older (2016). Many of the rosé wines that are built to last will cost you more than $25. The vast majority of rosés under $25 are made to be drunk young and fresh, within a year or two of the vintage date.
Whether you are looking for a wine to sip by the pool, quaff on the porch, enjoy with a plate of salumi and olives, or pair with a more serious meal, there is a rosé out there for you. Cheers!