It’s officially summer, and for me that means it’s officially rosé season. Because nothing breaks the heat quite like a chilled bottle of dry rosé. Living paycheck to paycheck, I look at these special wines as mini summer-vacations-in-a-bottle.
There are those that still think of sugary Jolly Rancher-like flavors when they see a pink wine. This is unfortunate, because the fact is that most rosés made around the world are fermented to complete (or almost complete) dryness. It hasn’t been until recently that this style of rosé has really caught on in the United States. Now, however, you can drop by your corner wine and spirits shop and find a wide selection of different types of dry rosé from all over the world.
Rosé can be made from any red grape, and the most popular technique (at least for still rosé wine) is called “bleeding.” What is done is essentially the same technique that is used to make red wine, only for a shorter time. The grapes are crushed and the skins are left in with the juice to “bleed” color into the wine, but they are removed after a matter of hours, as opposed to many days. The exact length of time all depends on how dark the winemaker wants the end product to be. And this is the real question when it comes to picking a dry rosé. There is just as much flavor variety across the rosé spectrum as there is for a red or white wine.
On the lighter end of the color (and flavor) spectrum are the traditional dry French rosés. The most famous are from the Provence area, and if they are made well, they can be simple and thirst quenching. If not, they tend to be acidic and lack flavor. While not every wine needs to be a fruit bomb, for a rosé, I think a hint of fruit makes even the most austere pink vino more complex and satisfying. One of the best pale pink rosés I’ve had in a very long time is the 2008 Jean Baptiste Thibault Sincérité Rosé ($9.99 at Columbus Circle Wines, 1802 Broadway, betw. 58th & CPS, 212-247-0764). From France’s Eastern Loire Valley, which is quite a bit north of Provence, this rosé is made from 100 percent Pinot Noir and is a salmony hue of orange-pink. It is absolutely delicious. There are scents of vanilla and orange peel, and every sip has hefty helpings of blackberry, pomegranate and mulberry, all spun together with a perfect balance of tangerine citrus. A must for anyone who drinks rosé.
Going a little farther into the red on the pink-to-sanguine spectrum, we land smack in the middle. A great example of this neon-red style of rosé is the Bodega Pirineos Mesache Rosado 2007 ($9.59 at Stew Leonard’s Wines, www.stewswinesny.com). This bright red wine is from the northeastern corner of Spain near the Pyrenees Mountains, and is made from Temperanillo, Garnacha (a.k.a. Grenache), Merlot and Moristel grapes. There are scents of cherry on the nose, but the signature ripe strawberry flavors of the Garnacha grape come through on the palate, bolstered by the Merlot’s juicy berry fruit and spicy Temperanillo on the finish. This is a rosé to bring to dinner, especially if you’re eating salmon or tuna.
Going even deeper and darker into the world of rosé, we travel to Sicily for the Tasca d’Almerita le Rose de Regaleali 2007 ($9.99 at Yorkshire Wines & Spirits, 1646 First Ave. betw. 85th and 86th, 212-717-5100). This wine, made from Nero d’Avola and Mascarello grapes, is a dark, opaque garnet. Serving the Regaleali a little closer to room temperature is definitely beneficial to its almost red wine-like fruit flavors of black cherry preserves and candied lemon peel. This is about as muscular and full-bodied as rosé gets.
While not all of us can afford a getaway to The Hamptons or Montauk, taking a sip of any of these refreshing pink nectars will transport you, at least temporarily, from the hum of your window unit and the noise of the traffic below.