IMBIBE: Rock the Rosé

By on May 2, 2017

The delicious truth about pink wine.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – Much to my surprise, having flown its flag for decades, rosé wine has suddenly become hip and trendy. Increasingly, people know that rosé wines aren’t typically sweet; fewer and fewer confuse them with white zinfandel. Whereas production in France led the way to its popularity—followed by Spain, Italy and the U.S.—pink wines are now made in places as far flung as Morocco, Lebanon, India, Bulgaria, Slovenia, The Republic of Georgia and Brazil.

I usually take the opportunity to write about rosé this time of year, since it is such a compelling spring and summer wine—although I hope you don’t limit your intake to only warm weather drinking, since it tastes great in autumn and winter, as well. After all, you don’t abandon white wines in winter, do you? Most rosé has as much, or more, heft as white wine.

Katherine Cole, wine columnist for the Portland Oregonian, is a fellow rosé reveler. Her book, Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine makes a strong case for the charms of pink wine. It’s not the standard dull wine book read. In Rosé All Day, Cole suggests that its recent popularity is a pop-culture phenomenon. According to Nielsen and the Wine Marker Council, rosé sales and value soared some 60 percent in 2015—a trend not seen since the days when Sideways made pinot popular.

Cole namechecks hip-hopper Flo Rida, who sings, “Two in the morning I’m zoned in / Them rosé bottles foaming,” and Wiz Khalifa requesting “rosé in my Champagne glass.” “And then there is Rick Ross with his black bottle,” writes Cole. “Rozay’s rosé entered 66 international markets in its first three years of existence, becoming the top-selling sparkling wine on Amazon. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, sales grew by 340 percent.”

It’s true that it used to be crap, but now it’s cool. Yet, that’s not why you should drink it. I love rosé for its versatility. There are higher- and lower-alcohol rosés, lighter- and heavier-bodied ones, sweeter and dryer. They range from nearly raspberry in color to faint creamy pink-colored, resembling white zin. They are terrific pairing partners for a wide range of foods, from delicate sushi to brawny barbecue. Rosé can be slightly sweet, bone-dry or in-between.

After years of bombarding my palate with tannins, oak and alcohol, they come on like a summer breeze. They’re also relatively inexpensive. Since it’s rosé season, I’ve been tasting my way through a roster of them. Here are some standouts.

Château Minuty is a family estate in Provence on the Saint Tropez peninsula. Jean-Etíenne and François Matton produce top-notch wine there utilizing chemical-free, sustainable practices, and 2016 “M” de Minuty Rosé ($19) is a good example. It’s a light-salmon colored, bone-dry wine with bold orange and currant fragrances and fresh acidity. Enjoy it with spring pea soup and grilled shrimp.

A pair of organic, sustainable and FairTrade rosé wines recently knocked me out: De Bos Walker Bay 47 Varietal Rosé ($17) from South Africa, and Spain’s Raimat 2015 Rosé ($12). Both are luscious and affordable. I also love the 2016 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($14)—one of the meatier new examples.

Meiomi Rosé 2016 ($25) is delicate, dry, and delightful. But my favorite this spring has been Kim Crawford Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2016 ($18), from New Zealand. It’s gorgeous and well worth tracking down. PJH

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