Rosé Renaissance

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By Courtney Cochran

Unless you've been living under a rock, the news that pink wine is hot is hardly something new to you.  Still, the array of rosé styles to choose from is impressive - and often takes even the pink stuff's most serious fans by surprise.

Dry Rosé
By far the most common style of rosé, this is the version you see on the shelves of most quality wine merchants come summertime. Fermented entirely or nearly "to dryness," this style of rosé contains little or no residual sugar and tastes stylistically similar to the dry red and white table wines (think Pinot Noir and Chardonnay) we're most familiar with.  They key difference when it comes to dry rosé is in the winemaking style - these wines score their enticing pink color from a process called "saigner," meaning "to bleed" in French. During the saigner process, a touch of color is leeched from the skins of red grapes (all grape juice is more or less clear without skin contact) prior to fermentation, leaving the finished wine anywhere from just barely pink in color to just shy of fully red in hue, depending on the amount of time the wine spent in contact with the grape skins.
Along with its sparkling counterpart (see below), dry rosé is the best option in pink wine for food. These are the wines to tip back while enjoying collection of small plates, appetizers before a meal, or throughout a meal itself. Bon apétit.

Dry Sparkling Rosé
It's difficult to pinpoint just who came out with the first pink bubbly, but there's little doubt that the Champenois have since perfected the creation of this alluring libation.  Unlike still rosé, sparkling rosé is typically made by blending together fully fermented red and white base wines, then bottling the mixture with bubbles under pressure. Bubbles created by the traditional Champagne method (during which they're created by a second fermentation inside the bottle) result in the best quality pink sparklers, and count budget-conscious Spanish Cava among their ranks.  Good quality California sparkling wines are for the most part made this way, too, and are particularly attractive alternatives to Champagne while the dollar remains weak.

The best wines hands-down for Valentine's Day meals and other romantic celebrations, dry sparkling rosés are rare and at times pricey, but never fail to add a sense of excitement and authenticity to an occasion.

Off Dry Rosé
Made infamous by Sutter Home's eponymous White Zinfandel, off dry (read: slightly sweet) rosé isn't all bad. In fact, many rosés sold on supermarket shelves today have been sweetened a bit in order to appeal to the tastes of the mass American market. And while many of these wines are perilously low in acidity - and overly cloying as a result - they count among them some pinks that are just shy of dry in flavor and pair surprisingly well with summer fare. Sweet picnic foods like fruit salads and strawberry shortcake are particularly good matches with this style of rosé, which can also be quaffed throughout a meal, though for more serious meals you're still best off tracking down a fully dry rosé.

Bottom line: Off dry rosé isn't a serious wine, but sometimes it's exactly what the doctor ordered. Finding good versions (read: not overly sweet versions) among the supermarket masses can be challenging, though their mostly reasonable prices means the search for good off-dry rosé doesn't have to break your bank. 

Sweet Sparkling Rosé
In keeping with the popular mantra "always save the best for last," this final category introduces the least known - and in my opinion the most decadently delicious - style of rosé. Sadly misunderstood and all-too-rarely sampled, sweet sparkling rosés come in a tantalizing array of hues and an equally diverse range of sweetness levels. Happily, precision most definitely isn't the aim when tucking into a bottle of sweet pink bubbly: instead, the goal is almost singularly fun, and fortunately for you these wines deliver fun in spades.

Standouts in the category include the rare pink sparklers from France's easterly Bugey Cerdon appellation, French "Demi-Sec" rosé Champagne and the delicious ruby-red bubblies carrying Italy's Brachetto d'Acqui designation. Pop the cork on one of these beauties for pairing with the gamut of berry-driven desserts and chocolates, or just for the heck of it. After all, life is short, and there's no better time than now to enjoy this most tempting of vinous treats.

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1 Comments

I wish there were more articles about Rose'! It has got to be one of the most versatile wines- can be matched up with just about anything and can satisfy even many red wine drinkers.

Thank you for doing this article,
from a Rose' winemaker,

Penelope Gadd-Coster
Winemaker/Owner
Coral Mustang Wines

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