Updated: Aug 23, 2021
In 1999, I worked in Minneapolis at a Brasserie. I learned several things about France, and French culture. Three have stayed with me for over 20 years. I love Edith Piaf, I love all regional French cuisine, and I love the opportunity to show people peppery, dry, fruity rosé wines. I have carried the serious pink wine crusade with me for all of my restaurant experience. I always throw a rosé wine or two on every wine list I create, whether or not the menu requires one. Rosé wine is red wine. When a red wine is made red grapes, blue grapes, purple grapes, or black grapes are crushed. The juice is macerated together, with the skins. The skins contain the color and the texture that is imparted into red wine. Consider what the experience of eating a grape presents, the fleshy, fruity interior of the grape, as one chews they get to the skin. The skin has a dry sensation from tannic acid that manifests itself on the tongue. It is the skins that give our reds their color and their texture. When making a rosé wine the skins are left in contact with the juice briefly, long enough to bleed pink color, texture, flavor, and body. Rosé wine does not have the full extraction of color that other reds see, and therefore can be produced without extended age time in oak barrels. This allows winemakers to release rosé wine much earlier than the reds made of the same grapes that may age years in barrel before bottling, in this way a rosé wine can be a bit of a sneak peek of what the full reds of the same fruit may showcase years later, with a bit of imagination...
I frequently show rosé wines made of Pinot Noir, Syrah/Shiraz, Cabernet Franc, Barbera, Grenache, and even Pinot Gris. I use these wines to introduce white wine drinkers to reds, and to show red wine drinkers alternatives that make a huge impact on food pairing options. Rosé wine opens the door to so many opportunities to broaden food pairing suggestions. Rosé is delicious with smoked fish, smoked meats, grilled chicken, or pork, and charcuterie meats and cheese. It is generally served chilled, but will change character while it warms in the glass. It can be an aperitif wine, and it can be a great way to show someone something new in wine.
The fact is, in the United States, there remain many people who think that pink wine is sweet. Rosé wines are not sweet, the presence of their skins during fermentation imparts dry, tannic structure. Historically, in the United States blush wine, like White Zinfandel had a dominant market presence, and made it's way into most refrigerators, and corporate core wine lists for big restaurants. Blush wines are frequently sweet, and frequently blended of multiple styles of white and red wines, and sometimes even sweetened artificially to accommodate a specific demand for the style. Blush wines, thankfully, are getting harder and harder to find, as dry rosé wines have found their way into the mainstream wine market.
How do I find a dry rosé? These days most communities offer more dry pink than sweet pink wines. Look for a specific grape, that will ensure it was bled from dark skinned grapes. They will generally read "Rosé of Pinot Noir" or whatever grape the winemaker chose, and rarely would have the word blush, these days. The best way to introduce yourself to dry rosé is to attend a class with Wine Time. Failing that, dry rosé is produced in southern France, Italy, and throughout the new world. Rosé tends to be relatively inexpensive, because it does not require extended time in oak and a winemaker gets to release early a small percentage of the vintage yield.