Even though I am too young (fortunate really) to remember the white Zinfandels and infamous Mateus from Portugal that were produced in large quantities in the latter part of the 20th century, the overall quality of rosé wines have improved leaps and bounds in recent years. Not only have innovations taken place in the vineyards and cellars, but consumers have become more educated as their discerning palates are beginning to desire more. This demand has led towards a drier, more complex style, one that speaks to the true character of the varietal and the area from which they’re grown.
The majority of rosé wines today are made in a light, crisp style with perhaps the most traditional, and premier, examples coming out of Provence, Roussillon, and the Rhone valley in southern France. Primarily based on either the Grenache or Syrah grape, these expressions move from a light pale pink to what some would consider almost red in hue. With these changes in colors come an amazing array of flavors and textures. They range from what would be almost reminiscent of white wines on the lighter end all the way to nearly full of reds with touches of tannin and greater fruit notes that accompany wines of that color.
One of rosé’s most endearing qualities is its flexibility with food. The wines work tremendously with produce from the spring and summer seasons, especially with dishes that pair terribly with red wines–those where vinegar plays a major role. I personally enjoy rosé with everything from oysters on the half-shell, to fresh salads, and even BBQ. As the weather warms, throw a bottle of rosé in an ice bucket, relax and enjoy the sun and outdoors with some good food and good friends.
Here are some great examples of southern French rosé and my choice bottles from other parts of Europe.