Poor misunderstood rosé. People turn up their noses without giving it a try. It’s like the green-eggs-and-ham of wine. Recently, at a local wine tasting, my friend refused to try the rosé on offer, adamant that she dislikes rosé.
“All rosé?” I asked, feeling a tiny bit like Sam-I-Am. I stopped short of asking, “Not under the stars? Not in the bars?” because Amy is a new friend, one of the few women I’ve met since moving down to the Suncoast from New York, so I was loath to contradict her.
A few weeks later, however, I was out to dinner with a group that included my ex-husband. He had handed me the wine list to choose a bottle, but when I suggested the rosé, which was both well-priced and sure to complement the different seafood dishes we were ordering, he shook his head, claiming he does not like rosé. Him, I have no problem contradicting.
“You don’t dislike rosé.” I said it nicely. Really. I even went back to the wine list and chose a bottle of noncontroversial Sauvignon Blanc.
“But,” I said, “the next time you come down to Florida I’m going to do a rosé tasting and I guarantee I’ll find a rosé that you like.”
“I’d love to do a rosé tasting,” said his wife, settling the matter. A stupid man he is not.
I learned to drink rosé during a cooking course at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. The day’s lesson had been on the flavors of Provence. As we as a class made our way to the table to enjoy the feast we’d prepared, I was too busy trying to position myself close to the garlicky aioli and away from the squid to notice the pink wine being poured into our glasses. Some of my fellow classmates, however, balked. Clearly, the instructor had heard it before.
“I know,” she said, “you see pink and you think sweet. Not so. This rosé from Provence is dry with mineral notes that will go perfectly with everything we’ve made from the seafood to the pistou.” It was and it did.
Rosé is made from red grapes. The juice from the inside of grapes, whether they are red or white, starts out clear. In making red wine, the juice, called “must,” rests on the red skins, giving the wine its red color and adding tannin and structure. To make rosé, the winemaker leaves the must in contact with the red skins only long enough to achieve the desired pink hue. Like a white wine, though, rosé is served chilled.
Love de Provence
Rosés from Provence, blending the red grapes from that area, which can include Grenache, Cinsaut and Mourvedre, are still my favorites. The wines are generally light pink or even salmon in color and, though dry, may taste subtly of raspberry, strawberry or even banana or almonds. Rosés from different places will be made from the red grapes grown in those areas and will take on the characteristics of those grapes. So, for instance, a rosé from Bordeaux will likely be a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and maybe some Cabernet Franc. It will be darker in color than its cousins to the south and, though still served chilled, it will be a sturdier wine that might pair well with grilled meats or spicy dishes. Because different rosés are so different depending on the grapes used—Malbec in Argentina, Tempranillo in Spain and so on—it’s hard to imagine that someone who likes wine will dislike all rosés.
That was certainly the verdict the next time my ex-husband and his wife came to Florida. With my eclectic family gathered in and around the pool, I served three different rosés: a Domaine Houchart, 2010, from Cotes de Provence; a Robert Pecota, 2009, from Napa Valley; and a Chateau de Parenchere, 2008, from Bordeaux, all of which I found at local wine stores and none of which cost more than $13.00. Everyone had a favorite. Not surprisingly, I liked the Domaine Houchart. My ex and his wife liked the Napa Valley wine best.
Up North, as spring gave way to summer each year, I would anticipate enjoying that first chilled glass of rosé on my back deck. As far as I’m concerned, here in Florida, it’s rosé season all year long. So sip it on a stool, try it in the pool . . . You get the idea.
Marianne Karas is a local certified wine specialist and a wine educator.