In her new book Rosé All Day (out now from Abrams) Portland, Oregon-based wine writer Katherine Cole talks about the massive trend of rosé wine and how to choose the varietal that’s right for any occasion.
“I’m going to get hate mail for saying this, but as a rule of thumb, I avoid rosés from regions that are really well-known for their reds and just happen to make some rosé on the side,” says Cole. “For example, vineyard land is expensive in Burgundy and Bordeaux, so those producers are going to focus their efforts on making high-quality reds which makes me wonder what sorts of grapes are going into their cheap rosés. Exceptions to this rule are places like Rioja (Spain), which has a very strong rosado tradition.”
Here, Cole shares gives her expert advice tips on how to shop for rosé wine.
Get to know the regions in Europe that are truly committed to rosé.
We are all familiar with the pinks of Provence, but less know that the rosés of Tavel, from the neighboring southern Rhône, were once the preferred wines of kings and considered to be better than Rhône reds. In Italy, the area around Lago di Garda is a hotspot for producing a specific style of rosé called Chiaretto. Abruzzo produces a unique rosato called Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. So getting to know rosé entails getting to know the names of a few regions and styles you might not yet be familiar with.
The tint of the wine can often—but not always—be your guide.
Bright, bold rosés that fall in the watermelon-to-sundried-tomato end of the color spectrum tend to work really well with barbecue, burgers, heartier foods. Paler rosés often pair better with seafood, chicken, salads, and so on.
Don’t be afraid to judge a rosé on its looks.
I love rosé because there is absolutely no shame in choosing one by its appearance. With every other style of wine, aroma and flavor are of utmost importance. With rosé, looks come first. At the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé in Provence, the first thing the scientists measure when they receive a new sample is the wine’s color. I love that!
Below, Cole chose her favorite rosés for every occasion this spring and summer.
Easter: April 16
A fizzy, fresh wine with a perception of sweetness will counteract salty ham or pair prettily with brunch goodies. I’d go for an Italian Lambrusco di Sorbara. This style of Lambrusco is a deep purply-pink color and will look gorgeous on your Easter table. The Cleto Chiarli e Figli “Vecchia Modena Premium” Lambrusco di Sorbara (approximately $15) is a classic.
Earth Day: April 22
I love the tongue-in-cheek name of the Biokult Rosé Secco (approximately $20) from Austria. No, it’s not made by a cult… at least I don’t think so. It’s from a family that runs a 5,000-acre certified-Biodynamic farm and makes delicious vegan and Biodynamic wines as part of the bargain. It’s light, bubbly and fresh like a Prosecco and will match all your favorite vegan dishes.
Mother’s Day: May 14
You can’t go wrong with a bottle of pink bubbles for mom. French Crémant d’Alsace is a nice choice because the winemaking method is the same as that followed in Champagne, but the wines are more affordable. One of my faves is Dopff & Irion Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé (approximately $20). It’s produced in an absolutely breathtaking Alsatian village that could be from a fairy tale.
Summer Rooftop Barbecue
Stock up on cheap, juicy Spanish rosados that are the color of piquillo peppers. Enanzo, a huge winemaking cooperative in Navarra turns out a spicy rosado (less than $10) made from the Garnacha grape. Its roasted rhubarb notes beg to be paired with barbecue sauce.
Just do it: Choose that bottle based on its looks. The Apaltagua Maule Valley Reserva Carménère Rosé from Chile is only about $13. The wine is an elegant wild-rose shade of pink, and the label is adorned with charming abstract flowers. It’s dry and delicious, with food-friendly notes of tropical fruit and fresh herbs. Bring it to dinner pre-chilled, because everyone will want to twist the screw cap and get right into it!
Published on April 14, 2017