As an early advocate for dry rosés (these are not your parent’s white Zins, which had over 5% residual sugars!) I take this as a sign that our wine palate is catching up with our foodways. As our diet becomes increasingly influenced by the fresh, flavorful foods of the Mediterranean diet, we’re learning that lighter wines work deliciously well.
In general, dry Rosés are some of the most versatile food partners this side of dry sparkling wines. That is, unless the rosé is too high in alcohol, which masks the fruit characteristics that make these wines such good food partners. Buying tip #1 – look for rosés with alcohol below 15% (below 14% is even better, though often difficult to find) unless you simply want a porch-side buzz on a hot summer day. Which, actually, isn’t such a great idea unless you’re immune to hangovers.
Food Suggestions for Dry Rosés
- Chicken or Tuna salad
- Deli sandwiches
- Cold roast chicken
- Potato chips /salty snacks
- Grilled fish and veggies
- Or any other food on a hot summer day
Rosé Buying Tips
- "To saignée or not saignée, that is the question!" All feeble Shakespearean references aside, I refer here to the fact that many nice rosés are produced as a byproduct of red wine production. To concentrate the color of some red wines, bleeding off some of the juice early in the maceration phase removes some light, lightly-colored wine, thus concentrating the color in the remaining juice. The portion bled off (saignee means "to Bleed") used to be thrown out, seen as a waste by winemakers pursuing a deep dark red. But, when bottled, it becomes the dry rosé we know and love. BUT, there are a number of producers (Ortman, for one) who choose their harvesting date, their grape varietals, and their production process SPECIFICALLY to optimize the quality of their rosé. Sadly, it is rare that you can find such information on a label. So unless you’re into researching a $15 purchase via my webstore or other detailed online source, let’s move on to the next buying tip…
- Low Alcohol Level – As noted above, lower alcohol rosés show better fruit characteristics and tend to be more enjoyable with food. I use 15% as my maximum, but prefer a rosé between 13.5% and 14.5%.
- Crisp Acidity – The purpose of these wines is to be refreshing, and it’s the acidity that provides that lip-smacking feeling that cools the palate and invites another bite of whatever comestible you have. If you can find production notes, look for a pH below 3.5
- Price – Bottled while young and with no need for barrels (a savings of $3 per bottle!) or storage costs for aging – a good rosé will not break your bank. Most can be found in the $11 – $19 range. Here are a few I’ve found worthy of including in my online store…
Featured Rosés – We will rotate fresh discoveries into our new Rosé Section through the end of fall. Check back often!
- L’uvaggio Di Giacomo, 2005 Barbera Rosato, $14 – Rich and racy. Cranberry, Strawberry and Cherry. (I’ve just been informed my links are opening very slowley once inside my webstore – sorry!)
- Ortman Family Vineyards, 2006 Syrah Rosé, $16 – Grown and produced with rosé in mind! Lavender, Strawberry, Watermelon and Honey.
- Tudor Wines, the Radog 2005 Rhone-Style Rosé, $13 – This wine recalls hot summer days in Provence where one’s biggest decision is whether to order rosé or pastis.
- Buttonwood – 2006 Rosé, $16 – Stylistically, this wine comes in somewhere between the famous rosés of Provence and those from the Loire. Delicious, no matter where your geographic loyalties lie!
Dave Chambers, Wine Merchant
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