Quick Sips — 15 July 2012
The rosé wines of summer

It would be a shame not to drink pink this summer



Attention, wine consumers, here’s something you may not know: winemakers can produce deep red or very pale pink wines from any red grapes, but they can only make white wines from white grapes. The key to a wine’s color is in the grape skins and the time the pressed grape juice has had contact with those skins. So you can have rich red wines made from Zinfandel grapes or you can have fruity “blush” wines (you know what I’m talking about) made from the same grapes. It’s all up to the winemaker.

Fortunately, for those of us who live in South Florida, it’s those wines that are pale pink or rosé that, when well made, not only provide refreshing relief on a hot summer day, but are also ideally suited to complement such light summer fare as grilled chicken, baked ham, egg salad, grilled salmon, burgers, ribs and charcuterie. They also are perfect matches for spicy Asian cuisine and any dish made with garlic (think garlic chicken with Parmesan).

Now before you turn up your nose at the notion of pink or rosé wine, let me make it clear that I’m not referencing the sweet wines you may have had once-upon-a-time (remember Mateus? Lancer’s?). It’s lighter, fruitier, drier, well-made, easy-to-like rosés I want you to try this summer. And you can start with some of the best from France.

Provence and the Rhone River Valley regions of France are where some of the best rosés in Europe are made (some 50 percent of all wine produced in Provence is rosé). The grapes used in Provence are Mourvèdre, Grenache and Cinsault, and some reliable names to look for include Domaines Ott, Jean-Luc Colombo, Domaine de Terrebrune and Château de Roquefort. Syrah and Grenache are the predominant grapes in the Rhone. Particular favorites include wines such as Maison Bouachon and Domaine de la Mordorée from the well-known Tavel region. I would distinguish between the regions by describing the wines of Provence as easy on the palate and showing hints of strawberries in every sip while the wines from Tavel tend to be more complex and show more body than most rosés. Both wines are very user-friendly.

Spain also produces some very good, somewhat richer, rosés, including Tapeña, Muga and Marqués de Cáceres. And for something really different, pick up a bottle of Montes Cherub Rosé from Chile (made from Syrah grapes) or Goats Do Roam Rosé (primarily a Syrah and Grenache blend) from South Africa.

Don’t overlook first-rate rosés made in the USA. The Francis Ford Coppola Sofia Rosé is made from premium Pinot Noir grapes as are the Toad Hollow Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir and the Iron Horse Rosé de Pinot Noir. If you like Pinot Noir, you’re going to love rosés made from pinot noir. (As a side note, Iron Horse also makes a delicious rosé from Sangiovese grapes.) The Cline Mourvedre Rosé and Quivira Grenache Rosé remind me of the wines of Provence while the Beckmen Vineyards Grenache Rosé brings back memories of sipping Tavel in Nice.

With so many choices — they’re all good — and available in a range of prices, it would be a shame to not “drink pink” this summer. It’s hot out already, and it isn’t going to get any cooler soon. Save those cabs and syrahs for a cooler season and enjoy these thirst-quenching, party-and-food-friendly rosés now.



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