I realize that to most of the wine world this may seem a funny time of the year for me to write an article on rosé, but that is precisely why I am doing it. Rosé is perhaps my over all favorite style of wine, especially when it comes to food pairing. I will say that in my short tenure in the wine world I have seen its reputation improve tenfold, but I still feel its pretty little horn needs more tooting.
One of the most common misconceptions is that rosé is the sweet sticky slightly fizzy pink wine we have come to know as white zinfandel… and is that a rosé?… well technically yes, but it makes up only a very small percentage of the delicious sea of pink that is out there. For what it is worth I cannot even fully knock white Zin, although I do not drink it, it is a fabulous “gateway wine” , and as a wine professional I would rather someone drink wine… any wine, than no wine at all. It also incidentally makes a delicious dressing for mixed melon salad.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let’s discuss my love affair. Rosé is perhaps one of the most versatile and sometimes even the most revered wines on the planet. It always baffles me that when I observe people perusing the 1,000 wine list I work with, they will with out a doubt play twenty questions with any still rosé I point them to, even if I assure them it is dry and a really fun refreshing way to explore their favorite red grapes and regions in a whole new and refreshing, and substantially more cost-effective way. And yet few give a second thought before ordering it’s only “respected” incarnation… and the only version that is on all wine lists year round, that being its sparking form. The most respected would obviously be Champagne (my favorite is Runiart rosé), however Cremant, Cava, and even Prosseco rosés command much respect in this market. And although I do love love love all of these, and I am sure it is no mystery that sparkling wine goes with ANYTHING!!!!!! that is not the horn I feel the need to toot.
I am here to speak for all of the unsung still heroes out there. I believe in this so much that I am only serving rosé at my wedding in July. Granted July is the perfect time for rosé, especially if you are having a beach wedding in Florida. But rosé is much more than a summer time treat, it is a perfect year round. I live in Chicago, which means that it is cold 75% of the year (although this year is keeping us on our toes) and I find most people who live north of the Mason Dixon line, drink seasonally. This means crisp whites, rosés, and light reds in the summer, and big reds, full bodied whites and fortifieds in the winter… and I say who ever wrote these rules did not take many MANY conditions in to consideration. I will grant that as far as food pairing goes, the white and red rules kind of make sense due to seasonal cuisine (with MANY exceptions). But rosé goes great with everything! Personally, I am a very hot blooded mammal who after a day of walking around in at least two layers, and then cozying in anywhere that is not my house ( as I realize with that modern invention of AC you can make it 65-70 all year long) it is usually 80 degrees and dry thanks to blasting heaters and that makes me very very thirsty!!!! So these conditions mixed with big comforting winter food, i.e.: pot-roast, roasted veggies, and steaks, means that a full bodied rosé is the most logical match.
Some of the best regions, grapes, and flavor profiles for still rosé are as follows:
Spain– Tempranillo or Grenache– Full, round, and fruity, with a deep magenta hue, and a velvety finish
France (Rhone, Province, or Languedoc)– Grenache, Syrah, Morvedra, and Pinot Noir – Light to medium-bodied with racy minerality, and a healthy back bone of acidity. Best coloration would be pink to salmon.
Italy- Sangiovese, Montepulciano & Nebbiolo– Medium bodied with herbal notes, and a tart cherry zing, with an electric pink hue
Washington– Cabernet Franc– Big luscious and velvety, with a watermelon finish.
Some of my Favorite Winter Rosés about the Town
Dusted Valley Ramblin’ Rose, Stoney Vine Vineyard, Walla Walla (Cab Franc) $33
Bonus: If you stop in most days you can hang out with me. And if you take a bottle to go you can receive 30% off
Antica Osteria Dry Rose, Montepulciano, Marche $20
Bonus: You can get a glass for $5 and a bottle for $20, and it goes wonderfully with their veil veal skirt steak!