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Steven Kolpan is Professor and Chair of Wine Studies at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY. Steven is co-author of Exploring Wine, which has sold more than 125,000 copies, and was nominated as Best Wine and Spirits Book by the James Beard Foundation. Steven is also co-author of WineWise, a consumer-friendly guide to the wines of the world, which won both the 2009 James Beard Foundation Award for Best Beverage Book and the 2009 Georges Duboeuf Award for Best Wine Book of the Year. He is also the author of A Sense of Place, a history of Napa Valley's Niebaum-Coppola / Rubicon Winery (foreword by Francis Ford Coppola) that received the prestigious Versailles Award for Best American Wine Book in 2000. He is a contributing editor and the wine columnist for The Valley Table and Salon.com. In 2007, Steven Kolpan was named Wine Educator of the Year by the European Wine Council. He has been a member of Slow Food International for 20 years. Steven Kolpan lives just outside of Woodstock, New York.

Pure Pink Pleasure: Rosé Wines













One of my favorite skits from the old (we’re talking 1979) “Saturday Night Live” featured Bill Murray as the host of the game show, “¿Quién es Más Macho – Fernando Lamas or Ricardo Montalbán?” And when I think of the hysterically funny Murray with his bad accent and worse moustache, I can’t help think about the legend of the origins of rosé wine. Let me explain.


The story (which is almost definitely apocryphal) goes something like this: About a hundred years ago, a group of Spanish winemakers – all men - wanted to make a light, refreshing wine for quaffing in the heat of the Mediterranean sun. White wine wouldn’t do, because real men wouldn’t drink white wine; that was reserved for women – vino blanco de las mujeres. So, gathering up all the machismo that they could muster, the winemakers hit upon a great idea: rosado wine.

The moral of the story? Real men drink pink wine. Quién es más macho, indeed.

Whatever its true origins, rosé wine, shared by both men and women, is here to stay. This fact is especially welcome as we enter the warmer months when there is nothing quite so refreshing as a glass of chilled rosé, served alongside the lighter foods of summer. Rosé – still or sparkling – is really the perfect wine for dining al fresco: on the lawn or on the deck, by a stream or by the ocean, on the mountain or in the valley, at a romantic picnic for two or at a backyard cookout with many.

There’s nothing fancy about most rosé wine. It is cold and crisp, delicious, driven by the flavors of red berries, and affordable. Exceptions? Sure. Consider true Rosé Champagne. It’s really expensive and is one of the most elegant wines on the planet. Consider rosé from Bandol, France; truly magical but can set you back more than $40 per bottle, especially from a producer such as the esteemed Domaines Ott or Domaine Tempier. The good news is that the overwhelming majority of good rosé wine, including some really tasty bubbly rosé, is priced between $8 and $20, with most hitting the $10 to $15 “sweet spot” wine consumers love.

A few words about how rosé is made. First of all, classic (read European) rosé wines are made solely from the juice of red grapes, but with not a lot of skin contact; the skin is where all the color is. So, these wines are the product of anywhere from several hours to two or three days of skin contact. There are two methods used to make rosé from red grapes: the straightforward skin contact method, utilized when making rosé is the primary goal of the winemaking process, and the saignée (bleeding) method, when rosé is a pleasant byproduct of making a red wine. In order to concentrate the astringent tannins in the powerful red wine, much of the pink juice is removed, leaving a higher skin-to-juice ratio for the red wine macerating on the skins. The pink juice is then fermented as a lighter wine with pale color - a rosé. In the European Union, the only legal way to produce still rosé wine is to use red grapes exclusively. Sparkling wines can either be made as rosés from start to finish (rare and expensive), or can be made as sparkling white wines to which red wine has been added (far more common). In the New World, there are no rules for the making of rosé, and it is not uncommon for both still and sparkling wines to be a blend of the juice of both red and white grapes.

Rosé can be a sweet wine, but I think the most interesting wines – certainly the most interesting with food – are the fruity but dry versions. “Blush” wines such as White Zinfandel are technically rosés, but many Blush wines contain noticeable residual sugar. I will say that White Zinfandel can be terrific with spicy dishes, such as curries or tacos, or salty foods – think Virginia ham or cured meats, such as prosciutto. But dry or off-dry rosés are wonderful wines because they are so surprising on the palate – driven by the intoxicating aromas and lingering tastes of strawberries, raspberries, cranberries, peaches, nectarines. And the color of rosé can be so beautiful, so inspiring, ranging from the palest pink to light red.

When it comes to pairing with food, rosé – still or sparkling – is a true “crossover” wine. Vibrant with veggies. Fabulous with fish. Perfect with poultry, pork, pasta, pizza. Lovely with lean cuts of red meat (beautiful with burgers, redolent with a roast beef sandwich and potato salad). Drink Pink at the picnic. Sexy with salty, spicy, smoky flavors. Alliteration is fun, but rosé paired with your favorite warm weather dishes is a blast.

Choosing rosé is a pleasure, not a chore. Pick up a bottle from France, one from Spain, a sparkler from Italy, another from California, one from Long Island, and on and on. Mix and match. Find your comfort zone. I must admit to being partial to the classic but affordable rosés of Provence, France where 80% of the wine produced is rosé. I also adore the rosados of Navarra and Rioja in Spain. I just tasted a killer sparkler from Veneto, Italy, good bubbly from New Mexico, and some very nice still rosés from Long Island. Rosé from Greece can be a revelation. California, Oregon, and Washington State make some nice wines, as do Chile and Argentina. My own basic rule of thumb for choosing rosé is to find a wine from a region where rosé is a focus, not just an afterthought. That may be why I tilt towards the Old World, and I especially recommend the wines from France, Spain, and Greece.

Here is a list of some really good dry to off-dry rosé wines. Buy the youngest wines you can find: 2009 or 2010. These are not wines for serious aging. The sparklers are Brut (dry) in style, but with mouth-filling red fruits, and all of them are non-vintage wines. Just about all of the wines are priced between $8 and $20, with most of them coming in under $15. retail.

Still Rosés:

Provence, France: Mas de Gourgonnier, Mas de la Dame, Commanderie de Peyrassol, Château du Rouet, Corail, Cape Bleue, Château Routas; from Tavel in the Rhône Valley, France: Château d’Aqueria, Domaine Lafond, Château de Trinquevedel

Greece: Domaine Skouras, Kir-Yianni, Semeli, Achaia Clauss;

Rioja, Spain: Muga, El Coto, Marques de Caceres, Marques de Riscal, CVNE, Faustino; from Navarra, Spain: Chivite “Gran Fuedo,” Vega Sindoa, Ochoa;

Portugal: Vinho Verde Rosé from Casal Garcia, Campelo, Casa do Valle; “Periquita” from Terras do Sado;

Veneto, Italy: Bardolino Chiaretto from: Cavalchina, Ronca, Marchesini, Tre Colline; from Sicily, Italy: Planeta, Regaleali, Fuedo Maccari, Cantine Barbera, Cusumano; from Sardinia, Italy: Pala, Argiolas from Campania, Italy: Mastroberardino, De Angelis, Cantina del Taburno from Tuscany, Italy: Castello di Ama, Banfi “Centine,” Carpineto, Il Poggione, Caparzo, Coltibuono “Cetamura”; from Abruzzo, Italy: Montepulciano di Abruzzo Cerasuolo from: Talamonti, Farnese, La Valentina, Umani Ronchi;

 Long Island: Channing Daughters, Wölffer Estate, Macari;

Finger Lakes: Konstantin Frank, Glenora, Bellangelo, Ravines, Hazlitt 1852, Sheldrake Point, Red Tail Ridge, Treleaven;

Oregon: A to Z, Domaine Serene, Hamacher, Ponzi, Erath (a rare rosé of Pinot Gris, which some people consider a red grape, some a white);

Washington: Charles&Charles, Waterbrook, Cayuse, Trio;

California: Bonny Doon Vin Gris, Calera, Gundlach Bundschu, Hendry, Amador Foothills, Fritz, Tablas Creek, Quivira, Eberle, Buena Vista, Peter Franus, Foppiano, Bonterra, Hey Mambo;

Chile: Montes, Los Vascos, La Playa, Casillero del Diablo;

Argentina: Susana Balbo “Crios”, Luigi Bosca, Doña Paula, Pascual Toso, Kaiken.


Sparkling Rosés (all wines  are Brut (fruity but dry) and non-vintage;all under $20;

New Mexico: Gruet, Saint-Vincent;

California: Blanc de Noirs from Chandon and Mumm Cuvée Napa;

Washington: Blanc de Noirs from Domaine Ste. Michelle;

Italy: Clara C Fiore Rosé, Mionetto, Rotari;

Spain: Cava Rosé is an incredible value. Producers include: Llopart, Segura Viudas/Aria, Juve y Camps, Cristalino, Cordoníu, Marques de Monistrol, Roger Goulart, Elyssia/Freixenet.

1 comment:

Adam mark said...

Thanks for sharing the nice information regarding rose wines. Red wines' taste are very nice.I like it very much.
Cheap Rose Wine in UK
Thanks a lot.