Gertrude Stein wrote, “A rose is a rose is a rose,” not differentiating between the flower’s vast spectrum of colors and aromas. Happily, the limitations she declared do not apply to the many iterations of attractive, enjoyable rosés or “blush” wines.

France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy are traditional producers of rosés (pronounced ro-say) of various qualities and sweetness levels. France’s regions of Provence, Langedoc, Burgundy, Loire, and the Rhone lead the production of popular wines refreshing in warmer areas and on hot summer days. Portugal’s entries include the familiar Mateus and Lancers in their pint-sized distinctive bottles that were my starter wines long ago.

Unfortunately, Americans, particularly men, turn their collective noses up at what they perceive as wishy-washy wine fit for the feminine palate. These light-hearted wines are treated with disdain, confusing them with the sugary, soda pop version of white zinfandel to which concentrate or sugar are added. In truth, many versions of rosé can beuninteresting, slightly sweet, and pallid.

Until the last coupe of decades, rosé was the overlooked runt of the wine world, stuck between its more respected red and white colleagues. Wine writers are writing paeans to their attractive tastes, aromas, and array of color, creating a burst of interest in the wines. Rosés blossomed into the love child of serious American winemakers who vinify new variations of pinks as dry wines using other grape varietals besides the classic Provençal varietals of grenache, cinsault, and mourvedre.

But rosés never fell completely out of favor because wine lovers recognized the wine’s compatibility as a partner to food and as a perfect beverage in hot summer days when heavier reds don’t fit the bill. It also works as an aperitif to get digestive juices flowing.  New, exciting versions made by forward-thinking vintners from cabernet sauvignon, cabernet frank, syrah, merlot and zinfandel are growing in popularity, sending bottles flying off shelves. Rosésold by the glass appears more frequently on restaurant wine lists. The Nielsen Report indicates retail dollar sales for non-bubbly, or flat roséjumped 65% with an expected continuation of growth for the next several years.  Sales of bubbly roséswith a tint of romantic pink continue to maintain their demand.

Pink wines come in an engaging range of colors from pale coral that matches petals of a rosebud, a deep pink resembling a glorious sunset, and others are an appealing shade of apricot-orange. (My personal preference for this wine has a deep pink color with a lovely floral aroma and a crisp, bright berry taste.) Roses are best drunk young and partnered with light meat dishes, salads with light dressings, summer fare, and seafood. Some people consider them as an introductory step to more serious wines, but make no mistake, they have the ability to stand alone. Their lower price point are an additional benefit since most roséssell between $10 and $20.

Three basic methods are the basis of most rosés. All grapes, red and white, produce clear juice. To obtain the desirable color, many vintners blend a small amount of red wine into finished white wine.  Another technique is saignée, the French term meaning bleeding or bled when a certain amount of free-run juice from crushed dark-skinned grapes after maceration is set aside to produce a light pink wine, and at the same time, concentrating the flavors in the remaining red wine. Different results are achieved when the first run of clear juice is macerated on red skins for up to several hours depending on whether the grapeskins are deep or lightly colored. It takes a good eye and lots of luck to determine the desired depth of color and flavor components as well as the right balance of fruit, acid, and sugar. In addition, flavors change because of new varietals. For example, Zinfandel adds more spice to the wine, while cabernet sauvignon adds softer, rounder notes. Too much bleeding removed the vital characteristics needed for the production of red wine, and it’s always a challenge because color can be unpredictable.

Make sure to try some rosés soon. You’ll be in for a delicious experience.






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