Go anywhere in France or Spain during the warm seasons, and every restaurant and wine bar you walk by is packed with people drinking pink wines, aka dry rosés. Being that our wonderful little city is often referred to as “The Paris of the South”, I think it’s time that more of us start drinking like Parisians, and that means drinking a lot more of the pink stuff, and I’m not talking about White Zin. Whether you’re looking for a refreshing glass of wine at 5 Walnut, a great accompaniment to your swordfish at Table Restaurant, or a fantastic back porch wine for sipping and serving this spring and summer, embrace pink wine and realize that it’s hip to drink it!
For most of the Baby Boomers, pink wine conjures up nostalgic memories of drinking sweet blush wines such as Sutter Home White Zinfandel, Mateus and Lancer’s. These wines were introduced to Americans in the 1970’s when wine consumption in this country was just beginning to surge. Wineries discovered that many young wine drinkers preferred sweeter wines, and wines like White Zin swept the country. There are still plenty of great folks out there who love these wines, but more and more Americans have embraced drier styled pink wines.
That is where dry rosés come into the picture. These wines are made by leaving the skin in contact with the juice of the grape for a very short period of time, thus giving them their pinkish hue. The important thing to understand is that most of the rosés produced in Europe are completely dry. The wines manage to capture the subtle characteristics of a red wine with delicate red fruit nuances, but they also deliver the crisp and refreshing characteristics of a white wine. They work incredibly well with all sorts of dishes, including spicy Asian fare, grilled vegetables and fresh seafood, but they also make great sunny day back porch sippers. All of the major European wine producing countries make them, but France makes the finest and the most.
In France’s southeastern corner, you have the wonderfully bright and fruity rosés produced from a series of villages know as Cotes du Rhone. Try the ones from producers Les Grands Bois or Domaine Les Aphillanthes; both are dry and packed with lovely strawberry, cherry, peach and white pepper notes. If you want to take a step up, you must try a wine from the village of Tavel which is a “Rosé Only Zone”, meaning that dry rosé is all they make here. The wines are typically blends of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and other regional grapes and they are usually darker and more fruit packed than their counterparts produced in other regions. Every year, one of the best Tavels comes from Chateau de Segries. Moving further south, we come to Provence where more dry rosé is commonplace. The rosés here tend to be paler in color and more delicate with more watermelon, cherry and cranberry notes, along with a hint of roasted herbs. Try the one from Domaine Sainte Lucie, simply called “MIP”, short for “Made in Provence” it looks like it’s going to taste like nothing with a very pale salmon hue, but once it hits the glass, it explodes with notes of wild strawberry, cherry and cranberry fruit. We stock all of these at the store, so stop by and let us turn you onto them!
At the end of the day, drinking pink wine is cool again. Don’t let your preconceived notions spoil your chance to try something new and delicious. Happy eating and pink wine drinking on Planet Asheville!