Poor rosé wines are so misunderstood. Very few of them were seen in the United States until we were awash in a massive wave of fruity White Zinfandel. Due to White Zin’s popularity, the impression of pink wine is that it’s semisweet, insipid stuff meant for ladies at country clubs. The truth is that most rosé is dry; it can be extremely crisp and refreshing and not at all unmasculine.
There are a couple of ways rosé wines can be made. One can simply blend red and white together; this isn’t common outside of Champagne, where a little red wine is added to the blend to add a degree of blush. The more common method is called saignée. This French word means “bleed off” and refers to the bleeding off of rosé during the production of red wines.
When grapes are first crushed the juice is clear; that gorgeous purple color comes when the juice is soaked with the red grape skins. During this soaking process a common practice is to pull out a few liters of pink wine before the full saturation has set in. This gives the wine a higher ration of skins to juice and thus produces a richer, darker, more intense red wine.
The other thing gained here is delicious pink juice. Now the winemaker has something to drink while the red is still being made. Rosé is made in just about every region that makes wine. Most is consumed at the winery or released locally only — rarely is there enough for the mass market. The exception is those producers who intentionally produce high quantities of the stuff. To do this they simply take all of the wine off the skin when the desired color and flavor are achieved. Of course, this can be done at any point so the range of colors is quite dazzling.
Here’s an easy rosé-infused cocktail recipe, plus our favorite rosé wine recommendations:
Bacchus Bar (Portland, OR)
Bartender Bryan Galligos
- 1 oz. rye whiskey
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 3/4 oz. simple syrup
- Rosé, or for extra sparkle, brut rosé
Combine liqueurs and serve in a chilled stemmed glass.
This is a pale, salmon-colored wine from a winery that solely produces rosé. It has aromas of pure raspberry and strawberry. Due to the warm climate the wine is quite rich and round in texture, and that creaminess lends itself to richer dishes; this is my go-to rosé for grilled salmon. The South of France is particularly known for rosé wines and this modern style is fantastic.
Mulderbosch is one of the better mainstream wine producers in South Africa. It has a nice, deep color and is loaded with cherry, lime, tobacco and herb flavors. Even though it’s so fresh and juicy, you still get that excellent funky South African terroir.
California Central Coast
Vin Gris de Cigare is a Provençal-styled pink with a rather pale, salmon color. There is a wonderful crispness to the wine due to the fact the grapes used for this beauty are not quite as ripe as those picked to produce a red wine. There is a lovely tea aspect to the nose, with a suggestion of bergamot, wild strawberry, and maybe even a delicate trace of wintergreen.
California Central Coast
The Francis Coppola Sofia Rosé is a fairly dry, stylish pink wine with a deeper fuchsia color. Fine red-fruit flavors flow onto the palate; refreshing notes of fresh strawberries and cherries lead into a crisp aftertaste. This is the fruitiest of all of the selections here.
This rosé is taking the country by storm. It offers an extremely attractive value and is widely available. It offers up beautiful strawberry and pomegranate flavors with all of the crispness and bright acidity to make it the perfect front-porch quaffer.
Try these wines in place of white or red; they are extremely versatile and rarely expensive. Rosé is meant to be enjoyed while it’s young and fresh — it almost never ages well so there’s no excuse to not pop that bottle.