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2016-06-01 / Wine Notes

Everything Is Coming Up Rosés

Robert D. Richards, CSW

Wines are not strictly seasonal. We drink whites and reds year-round, although we might favor a bold Cabernet Sauvignon on a winter night and a crisp Sauvignon Blanc on a warm spring afternoon. Yet one wine seems to fit perfectly into summer, and that’s rosé.

A clarification is needed. Rosé is a crisp, acidic, dry wine whose color can range from pale pink to light red. Don’t confuse it with those sweet, blush wines, like White Zinfandel, that either retain a higher level of residual sugar when fermentation is stopped before completion or, in some cases, unfermented juice concentrate is added just before bottling.

Rosés are found throughout the wine world but are particularly popular in the south of France, Spain and California. The grapes used to make rosés vary, but the process for making them is similar, albeit with some regional variation.

Wine gets its color from the grape, specifically the skins. White wine grapes typically are crushed and pressed, the skins are immediately discarded, and the remaining liquid (called the “must”) is fermented. With reds, the juice is left in contact with the deep purple skins for several days before and/or during fermentation, and the juice from the bottom of the tank is regularly pumped over the top of skins floating on the surface (called the “cap”) to allow for maximum color extraction. With rosés, which are made from red grapes, the length of time the juice remains in contact with the skins is less, resulting in the pinkish color.

In France, rosés hailing from the south — Provence — are particularly popular. The pale pink color, the crispness and the bone-dry nature make them pleasant in both appearance and taste. In Spain, rosés are made from native varietals, like Monastrell, as well as traditional reds like Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. In California, some vintners are experimenting with blends of grapes, including Grenache and Cinsault, while others are using traditional red varietals.

With the longer days of summer upon us, it’s the perfect time to compare the various regions to see what best suits your “pink” palate. •SCM

Bodegas Rosa de Arrocal 2014    (#43965, $12.99)
This Tempranillo blend offers a crisp, floral, fruity aroma with just a touch of spice on the finish. The expected notes of red berries also are present.

Robert Hall Winery Rosé de Robles 2014 (#42628, $12.99)
Classic red berry aromas with just a hint of citrus round out this blend of mostly Syrah and Grenache grapes from California’s Central Coast.

Chateau d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé Cotes de Provence 2015 (#49853, $20.99)
With its beautiful pale pink color and tasty notes of strawberry, red berries and even a hint of peach, this
offering from Provence is quickly becoming a wine-list favorite in American restaurants.


Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.

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