A Beginner’s Guide to Rosé

October 26th, 2015 @ 03:00pm Whitney Butler Food and Wine 0

Rosé is to wine what summer is to a year—it harkens fond memories of warm sunshine and cool afternoon gatherings with family and friends. Similar to red and white wine, rosé has its own characteristic style, taste and aroma. Here’s a beginner’s guide to rosé.

Myths and Misconceptions

To start, let’s clear up a few common misconceptions. First, rosé is most certainly not a result of mixing red and white wine together. Some California vineyards have perfected the art of blending wines, but rosé is not one of them. Rosé gets its beautiful shades from brief contact with grape skins (like red wine), for usually no longer than 72 hours.

Second, rosé is a genre/category of wine (like white and red), not a varietal. Rosé can be made from just about any wine grape, both red and white, and the varietal will impart its characteristic flavor, aroma and color.

Lastly, rosé can be referred to by several different names, including pink, blush, rosado (Spanish) and rosato (Italian). Despite all the monikers, these wines are all made in one of three ways: skin contact, saignée and blending.

Taste and Aroma

Rosé enjoys a unique geographical freedom in that it’s not specific to one region or appellation. Rosé is made all over the world with various grape varietals, including sangiovese, syrah, pinot noir, zinfandel (popularly know as white zinfandel), cabernet sauvignon and tempranillo, to name a few. Each grape has a unique taste and aroma, which is imparted to the wine during maceration (when the skin and juice are in contact). Colors can range from a light salmon to a deep and rich purple. What’s more, not all grapes produce sweet rosé.

The sweetness commonly found in rosé can be attributed to many things, including the residual sugar, relative levels of alcohol, acid or tannins. Generally speaking, the more residual sugar, the sweeter the wine, so dry and savory rosés have less residual sugar.

If you’re looking for a sweet and acidic rosé, look for wines made with zinfandel, sangiovese or pinot noir. These wines will smell and taste of strawberry, melon and hibiscus.

Dry rosé can be delightfully deep and complex when produced with grapes like syrah, Tavel or cabernet sauvignon. These grapes express aromas of summer berries and rose petals with tastes ranging from rhubarb to stone fruit.

Vintage and Price

If there’s another reason to love rosé, it’s the price. Quality domestic rosé can be purchased for about $25, and that’s because unlike red wine, which generally increases in price parallel to its vintage, rosé is meant to be enjoyed immediately. So instead of looking for ancient rosés, look for a bottle from the most recent vintage and enjoy.

If you feel like splurging, some of the most expensive bottles come from a region in southeastern France known as Provence, or more specifically Côtes du Rhône. These foreign rosés are usually more than $50 a bottle. The shelf life of rosé typically doesn’t improve over time except for a few rare cases like a Tavel rosé from Côtes du Rhône, which actually turns rich and nutty after a few years. Generally speaking, though, don’t save your rosé—drink up!

Seasonal Food Pairings

Rosé is all about freshness and welcoming a new growing season, so it’s the perfect accouterment while dining al fresco or served alongside fresh seasonal ingredients.

We love this bright and refreshing 2014 Peju Pink with a delicate and sweet watermelon salad served with soft burrata cheese, fresh basil and a drizzle of quality balsamic vinegar.

Enjoy a savory and dry 2014 Rosé of Syrah with beautiful, fresh asparagus wrapped in salty cured prosciutto. When it comes to rosé, don’t be afraid to experiment—especially on the grill. Grill some fresh cantaloupe for a sweet and smoky treat perfect with this brilliant rosé from Napa Valley.

Enjoy all the varieties that Peju, a family-owned winery in Napa Valley, California, has to offer. We invite you to explore our website for more information about experiencing our wines and events.

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