Just about every summer, I get asked “What is my favorite wine during a hot summer afternoon?” My response without hesitation is I love rosé wines from California, Spain and France. Most of the time, the reaction I receive from the person asking the question is one of shock and horror. I thought you were a wine expert? How could you drink that sweet pink stuff? Well, I don’t drink that sweet pink stuff. I drink dry rosé wines, which for the most part, get a very bad wrap here in the United States, due to White Zinfandel which contains residual sugar hence the sweetness.
In France, Spain and in other parts of the world Rosé is consumed by the barrel. What makes a rosé wine a rosé? There are many urban legends floating around as to the origin of the pink color in a rosé. It is not, as many believe, a mixture of red and white wines. All pink wines, with the exception of pink champagne, come from dark skinned grapes. Rosé can be produced from Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Grenache, Merlot, Tempranillo or a mixture of them. Rosés get their pink hue from the limited contact time with the skins of the grapes usually only a few hours. When you crush any grape regardless of skin color the juice runs pretty much clear. So, the juice picks up just enough color from the skins to shade the wine pink. If you increase the duration of contact between the juice and the skins, the resulting wine will be darker.
But there is something else that contact with grape skins gives to wine, namely tannins. They can affect the texture or feel of the wine in the mouth, and also act as preservatives during the aging process. Since red wines have had considerable contact with the skins, anywhere from 2 weeks to over a month the youthful tannins can be a bit astringent. Reds generally require a certain amount of bottle-aging to fully mature and smooth out. But because pink wines have had little skin contact they contain very low levels of tannins.
Therefore, they should be enjoyed within two years. They will contain the lively and refreshing flavor that pair exceptionally well with many summer dishes. The other upside to rosés is their bargain price point. Rosés range in price from $5.00 – $25.00 a bottle. Here are a few of my favorites, some are in very limited supply so if you get the chance to pick some up do so, and you will not be disappointed.