In my time, I’ve heard people talk down rosé more than any other style of wine. Why? Some will say it was the rise of White Zinfandel that forever left a mark on rosé. People looked at a pink, sparkling glass and thought of grandma’s sweet summer wine or the cheap headache-inducing stuff they were poured at a wedding. Honestly, I don’t think this is the only reason. I believe that in some regions (especially New World), rosé has been the red-headed stepchild of many winemakers. Recently, we are seeing a significant rise in quality across the board.
Whatever the reason, rosé is making a comeback in a very big way. As I delved into the world of rosé, I found rosé from some of the most respected names in the business, and in some cases, winemakers that only make rosé and are very proud of it. Funny, when I think back only a few years, the chances of someone requesting a rosé were tiny, now it happens regularly. And why not? Rosé is the perfect balance between a red and white wine. It pleases on both levels and bridges the gap for a lot of wine drinkers. It’s the perfect summertime wine. What’s more, due to its diversity and multitude of styles, it’s excellent with a variety of cuisines from around the world.
The real challenge is that the category is huge, with rosé being made from more grape varieties than I could possibly recount. In France, rosé is often closer to the white spectrum, while Italian Rosato drinks more like a red. In Spain, they are racier and fuller, and in the States, the styles vary from producer to producer. The only way to tackle this is to jump right in. So, I started cooking and popping open bottles. What follows are the wines that I enjoyed the most and the recipes that were a perfect fit.
Provence in California
The Lorenza Rosé is as refined and graceful as a ballerina, yet truly brought the goods on the palate with focused vibrant fruit and cleansing minerality. It is styled after the Rosés of Provence, yet with a ripe (not sweet) character that California is perfect for. This ended up being a group favorite when paired against a number of seafood preparations, yet the one that stood out was a Seafood Avocado Salad with Ginger. In this preparation, the salad complemented the wine beautifully by adding hints of spice and salinity to the palate, and the Lorenza was the perfect wash of refreshing fruit after each bite.
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2011 Lorenza Rosé – On the nose, I found green melon with spring flowers, almond skins and saline minerality. With air, the bouquet continued to blossom, gaining depth and richness. On the palate, it was soft and medium-bodied with fresh, young strawberries and a mineral core. It firmed up on the refreshing finish with pit fruits and a tinge of citrus.
Get It Off The Grill
This Spanish Grenache/Syrah blend will absolutely find its way into my summer barbecues. The aromatics literally leapt from the glass and pulled me in. That, followed by its zesty and mouthwatering performance on the palate, made me think to pair this with something from the grill. The best part is how simple this pairing was. Grilled Spice-Rubbed Skirt Steak would be a little too spicy for a full-bodied red, but the Bogatell took it in strides because of its vibrancy and drive on the palate. This combination was a game of contrasts on the palate and resulted in a pleasing balance of fruit and spice.
And it doesn’t stop there; this wine was a pleasure with grilled asparagus, mushrooms and, of course, burgers.
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2011 Bogatell Terra Alta Garnacha Negra – The nose was very expressive and fresh with crisp watermelon, strawberries and whipped cream (but not sweet), followed by raw almond and minerals. On the palate, it had a medium body with great focus, showing flavors of ripe cherry and citrus zest. The finish was simple yet a perfect close to this wine, as citrus notes and mouthwatering acidity left a slight zing on the palate.
Believe the Hype
I heard a lot of hype about this wine and it was all true. The Domaine de Triennes is a beautifully-finessed rosé that pleases on all levels with fruit, florals and minerals. I found it to pair perfectly with Mediterranean flavors, and there were so many pairing successes that I found it hard to pick just one. In the end, it was a Roasted Chicken with Lemon, Oregano and Feta Cheese that really stood out, although I couldn’t help myself from adding a teaspoon of capers to the recipe. This pairing presented a perfect mix of flavors that complemented each other beautifully. I would also recommend Chicken Francese.
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2011 Domaine de Triennes Vin de Pays du Var Rosé – The Triennes showed a beautiful bouquet of strawberries and young peaches with minerals, almond skins and salty hard cheeses. On the palate, it was balanced and persistent, showing melon and a slight kiss of sweetness up front that turned to tart citrus through the mouthwatering finish.
Extroverts Like Company
From Sonoma County, Calif. and with one foot in the red door and one in the white, the Eric Kent Rosé opens up the opportunity to get a little wild. It’s a bigger-styled wine than most here, yet still crisp and refreshing. I found Grilled Balsamic Pork Tenderloin to be a perfect pairing. It was a combination of the marinade and the char from the grill that really made this pairing work. The recipe hints to add a few tablespoons of honey to the marinade, and I agree 100 percent. The Eric Kent Rosé sang with the mix of succulent pork and sweet char.
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2011 Eric Kent Wine Cellars Rosé – The bouquet wafted up from the glass, showing fresh strawberries in cream, grapefruit, minerals and sweet floral notes. It showed medium weight on the palate with a push and pull of sweet versus tart apple, fresh cranberries and a hint of citrus. The finish was clean and refreshing with the slightest hint of lingering red berries.
Rosé and Canapés, the Perfect Pairing
The Wolffer Estate Rosé is everything I want in a rosé as it rides the middle ground between finesse versus intensity and fruit versus earth. It pleases on every level and leaves the palate feeling beautifully refreshed. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of attending a high tea (which I recommend), the various finger sandwiches named “canapés” are great to pair with rosé. They are also perfect to be used as appetizers at the dinner table, indoors or out. I found a number of great canapé recipes on What’s Cookin', and there’s no reason you can’t make a mix of them. The one that really paired beautifully was Smoked Salmon and Egg Canapés.
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2011 Wolffer Estate Rosé – On the nose, I found light cherry with herbs, a hint of sweet cream and just enough undergrowth to keep it very interesting. The palate displayed refreshing acidity with fresh nectarine, berries and hints of citrus. The finish was mouthwatering and fresh with lingering fruit.
The Sparkling Rosato
I was truly wowed by the Petal Rosa, an Italian Rosato made from a hybrid crossing of Moscato and Raboso. This dry sparkling Rosato thrilled me with its lush aromatics and spicy personality, but then its tantalizing acidity and purity on the palate begged to be paired with something rich and earthy. I decided to go with a simple preparation that is perfect at parties or as an appetizer: Sausage Mushroom Caps. The salty and spicy flavor of these stuffed mushrooms was a prefect contrast to the Petal Rosa’s fruity personality, while the Petal Rosa’s vibrant acidity and bubbles made the last bite as fresh and flavorful and the first.
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Villa Almé Moscato Petal Rosa - The nose was beautiful with lush pink floral notes, ripe peach and a spritz of minerals. On the palate, it was remarkably fresh and vibrant with hints of young strawberries and inner floral notes which lasted through the long and refreshing mineral-laden finish.