By Ron Blumenfeld
During the summer, wine drinkers are drawn to crisp, refreshing white wines, while avoiding the hearty reds that help fortify us against the winter cold.
A rigidly seasonal approach to wine drinking is in my opinion a mistake. Meanwhile, though, there’s another option—rosé. The once-disparaged wine has been steadily gaining respectability as a summertime choice. But it’s also a good wine to drink any time of the year.
Rosé is typically made by limiting the contact of red grape skins to fermenting wine. It’s the skins that are largely responsible for imparting tannins and color to reds. When making rose, the outer layer is removed relatively early in the fermentation process. It’s the winemaker who decides when that will be, which in turn depends on the desired style and the grape(s) that are used.
Rosé surfaced in the U.S. in the 1960’s with imports such as Mateus and Lancer’s and domestic brands like Sutter Home. Cloyingly sweet and flabby, that first glass of White Zinfandel can nevertheless lead drinkers to more sophisticated Burgundies and Barolos.
Today, Americans have discovered that rosés can be serious yet charming. What’s more, the blush-colored wines range from mineral-crisp quaffing varieties to bold, fruity ones that blur the line between rosé and standard red wine. Southern France turns out great rosés, with the Tavel appellation arguably setting the gold standard.
Some wine stores carry 100 or more rosés over during the summer. Rely on the staff to guide you, and try out a few different styles. Two favorites of mine are Wolffer Estates from Long Island and Bagnol Cassis from Provence. Wolffer Estates makes a copper-colored rosé with subtle and delightful red fruit flavors. Bagnol Cassis from Provence, a pricy but elegant dry rosé, is great on its own or with seafood or light meats—even in winter.
Ron Blumenfeld is part owner of French vineyard Domaine des Bories.