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
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,
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
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,
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
tastes like a chilled Pinot noir.
It's even slightly tannic.
Finishes crisp and a bit minty."
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