Even if you know nothing else about Rosé Wine, you know she’s relegated to the back porch on lazy summer afternoons, right ? And indeed she swoons in such an environment, paired with levity and light-heartedness.
So get ready to dispel another Wine Myth – this Beauty can dance All Year Long! And there’s no better time to trot her out than during the harvest season with it’s panoply of beets, root vegetables and winter squashes. And with Thanksgiving Dinner, she’s the Belle of the Ball!
So let’s step back a few paces and discover just what constitutes a Rosé. Jancis Robinson M.W. describes wines from “hardly perceptible” pink to modern Rosés that can range to deep crimson. Why? Because most Rosés begin life just like Red Wines.
The juice of all (well almost all) graxpes is white, and the color comes from contact with the skins of grapes. Most Rosés are made through a process called Saignée, which means “bled”. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed and put into a fermenter to macerate, which gives color to the juice. But instead of spending weeks co-habitating, 20% of the juice is bled off (removed) mere hours after being introduced…………a short but meaningful liaison. This juice is then given its own tank to finish the fermentation process , where it’s completed at lower temperatures just like white wines.
For the feminine grape varieties (those whose personalities are defined by acidity and lighter skins, such as grenache and pinot noir), it may take 6 to 12 hours of canoodling. But the masculine varieties such as cabernet and merlot (those possessing a tannic structure and darker skins) may only require 2 or 3 hours to pass along their rose-colored coat.
Some Winemakers argue that there is a superior process for Rosé production which involves dedicating the entire batch to wearing pink dresses. The decisions made in the vineyard, such as to when to pick, are done with only Rosé in mind, as opposed to Rosé being the by-product of older brother Red Wine. To achieve this, when the juice reaches its optimum coat of rose, all the juice is removed from the skins and fermented on its own. So, enough technical jibberjabber, it’s time to talk about putting our Lady with her favorite cuisine.
So as luck would have it, some friends threw a party recently just to honor Ms. Rosé. They planned meticulously so that all of her best qualities would be on display, and what a gorgeous and delicious array of delicacies greeted us!
There was pickled okra and beets with strawberries. Three varieties of heirloom tomatoes. Pan-seared foie gras on brioche with fresh date sauce topped with pomegranate arils. And the pièce de résistance: two brined and slow-roasted Berkshire Pork Butts. And to dress up the pork, there was a choice of Spinks Farm yellow squash chow chow, Pat Moon chow chow and pear relish, Dreamland BBQ sauce and homemade chipotle BBQ sauce. Let me not skip the jewel sweet and Yukon potato gratin with Wright’s dairy truffled Alexandria cheese and black truffle salt.
Each of us was asked to bring a bottle to Share and Pair, so we ended up with a lovely diversity of Rosés, covering many countries and grape varieties. Our goal and our pleasure was enjoying how our cooling, refreshing, just-shy-of-being-red wines paired with all these competing flavors.
Time out to review a few Wine/Food Pairing rules:
a. The acidity present in wine and the acidity found in foods creates a great combination, as acidity with acidity actually lowers the overall level, and creates a more cohesive pairing. Think tomatoes and citrus-based sauces.
b. Wines of acidity pair with eclectic foods that have spices, sauces and alternative grilling methods. Spicy foods need a wine that is fruity or cooling and that has little or no tannin. The spicy chow chows and the chipotle sauces are tempered by the cooling lively Rosés.
c. The style of the wine and food can also be chosen to reflect one another. Rustic foods and simple, rustic country wines go well together, as do Regal foods and finely made, elegant wines. BBQ Pork and all the accompaniments are more down-home and less Kingly, and therefore Ms. Rosés contributions are just the right size.
d. Wines with a cooling, fruity and lively personality help cut through heavy, rich sauces, fattiness, and butter, thereby cleansing the palate, and setting it up for the next bite of food. Think of all the flavor profiles on your Thanksgiving table, and know that a wine with color, fruitiness, freshness and complexity can mix well with all the dishes and all the company.
The standout wines of the evening were:
2010 Lucien Crochet Sancerre Rosé; Loire Valley, France: pinot noir based, and barely rose-tinted, the brilliant acidity made this an elegant entry.
2010 Brundlmayer Langenloiser Zweigelt Rosé; Austria: Incredible finesse and fantastic minerality, once again with just a kiss of color.
2010 Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir; California: Vin Gris lacks a specific definition, but once again refers to the lightest maceration giving the palest of hues, and delicacy of fruit.
2009 Vitalonga Rosé; Umbria, Italy:
the opposite end of the color spectrum. Rich ruby color, full and round with good fruit yet dry finish.
And a couple more recommendations that you shouldn’t miss, available in the Birmingham Market:
2010 Domaine du Poujol Languedoc Rosé.
I trust you’ll find this a good Rosé Primer (rhymes with Prim and Proper, as the Brits would say). So put ON your rose-colored glasses and watch Our Lady Rosé not only Dance but Sing !