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“Dry Rosé Wines the Perfect Summer Quaffer”
Refreshing Wines for the Patio, Porch or Pool
by Christina Kelly

As spring reveals longer days and the deck becomes more inviting to stay and linger into a warm, dusky night, I love the taste of a cold, frosted glass of a dry Rosé wine and simple foods for hotter weather.

This is the time of the year when big, tannic red wines, my favorite throughout the late fall, winter and early spring, become too heavy in hot weather and don’t particularly compliment the lighter fare served on patios and decks throughout the late spring and summer. The best wine to pair with a cold pasta salad and a gorgeous sunset, as the day weans from direct sunlight to that amber glow of the evening, is a dry Rosé wine.

This isn’t the pink or “white” Zinfandel that many consumers associate with light, cloyingly sweet pinkish wines. And, the problem with marketing a dry Rosé is that white Zinfandel drinkers think it is too dry, and many serious wine drinkers scoff at a “salmon-colored wine” as being too sweet and lacking any character or oomph. It is a tough wine to sell because the mainstream American palate has not embraced this wine for summer sipping.

 

 

 

   

 

 

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The first time I tasted a very good dry Rosé was produced by Domaine Tempier from the Bandol region on the sun-drenched coast of Southern France. I was a late bloomer, having tasted that wine in 1998. Prior to that, my idea of a “pink” wine was wine coolers, or the sweet white Zinfandel or “blush” wines (white wines with just a tiny pink color) that were so fruity and sweet, you could not pay me to get near the bottle, let alone taste it.

The Domaine Tempier and several Spanish producers of Rosé gave me hope that more U.S. winemakers were watching what Europeans drank in hot, Mediterranean climates.

Fortunately, some serious winemakers in Washington, Oregon and California paid attention. The sophisticated Rosé wines of the NW are exactly what they should be—youthful, fresh, crispy and complex enough to satisfy consumers who want more than a monotone wine, while still offering the refreshing light and lean flavors of a white wine.

One Washington winemaker dubbed a dry Rosé, “summer in a glass—the great equalizer for red and white drinkers—it takes a real wine drinker to know this wine.”

What IS Rosé?

Rosé is the French word for “pink.” The wine is made from red grapes, but the skins are removed early in the process, resulting in a light pink color. Rosés can be produced from just about any grape, including Grenache, Zinfandel, Merlot, Tempranillo, Syrah, Pinot Noir, and grape blends, such as Grenache, Syrah and Viognier.

The wines have flavors of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and even plum, with some spice, a light complexity of flavors and a balance of acidity that works very well with food. Although I am a fan of aging wines, Rosé wines should be consumed within two years or less—don’t age these wines or you will lose the fruit. They should be consumed young and chilled, but not iced.

Roses to Try This Summer

One of my favorites is the 2003 Belle Pente Cuvee Contraire $14/$12.60, from Oregon. It's just a scrumptious dry pink wine with tons of fresh strawberry scent and flavor, and crisp acidity that is so very refreshing on a hot day. Ultimate summer picnic wine.

Another good Oregon Rosé is Territorial Rosé 03 $13/$11.70. Last year, Gourmet magazine had this to say about the Territorial "Pink Wine" :

""Smells like Pinot noir,
tastes like a chilled Pinot noir.
It's even slightly tannic.
Finishes crisp and a bit minty."
- Gourmet Magazine 8/03

Washington has a few delightful dry Rosés at under $15. The Snoqualmie 2002 Cirque Du Rosé $10/$9.00 is a Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon. The color is a bit darker, with the red skins of the grape left on longer. This is the perfect summer patio or picnic wine—a mouthful of strawberries with a little spice, and perfect for a lightly grilled chicken and Cesar salad. And don’t forget the sunset, and that perfect twilight time

Zefina, a new winery from winemaker Charlie Hoppes, makes a terrific Zefina 2002 Rosé $17/$15.30. I recently had the Zefina Rosé with barbequed London broil on my deck and it was scrumptious, with aromas of strawberry and even watermelon. I highly recommend it if you have never tasted a dry Rosé.