f you’ve ever discussed rosé, there probably are a few images that pop into mind: a gallon of pink wine sitting on the bottom shelf of the supermarket wine aisle or the sugary-sweet blush wine that your mother drinks. You certainly wouldn’t expect rosé to be a delicate, dry wine that is versatile enough to bring to any dinner party — but that is exactly what real rosé is.
Rosé has a tarnished reputation in the United States as a direct result of the mass-marketed white zinfandel and blush wines of the 1970s. As winemakers cater to a more discerning American palate, rosé has gained popularity as a wine to be taken seriously.
If you haven’t given real rosé a try, now is a great time to pour yourself a glass. While it can certainly be enjoyed year round, it often is consumed more during the summer because it’s the perfect warm-weather drink. Rosé drinks so well in the heat because it tends to be lighter in alcohol (which makes it less fatiguing); it drinks well chilled; and it is very refreshing. Also, rosé pairs perfectly with summer barbecues. Traditionally, barbecue has been a nightmare for wine pairing. What wine can possibly pair with burgers, hot dogs, corn on the cob, salad, pork and watermelon? Rosé can.
Rosé isn’t just for barbecue, though — it pairs with practically everything. “Rosé is one of the best wines for food pairings … especially when you are dealing with a mix of people,” says Benjamin Coutts of Augustan Wine Imports. “Their freshness, balance of fruit and acid and sheer deliciousness mingle with all sorts of summer fare.”
That freshness and balance has been present in quality rosé that has been produced and appreciated in Europe for centuries, but it hasn’t been until recently that good French-style rosé has gained popularity in America. Several American wineries have started to mimic this style and have begun producing rosé that rivals their French counterparts.
French-style rosé tends to be dry, light and refreshing. It can be sparkling or still. The most common way rosé gets its color is from a technique used during the maceration process. When making red wines, maceration occurs when wine is left in contact with the grape skins. True red wines are macerated for long periods of time, resulting in their deep color. When making rosé, maceration is a brief process; it lasts just long enough for some color to leach into the wine from the skins, imparting a pinkish hue.
While rosé is rising in popularity, it’s earning a place in pop culture. References to the wine can be found in songs by Jimmy Buffett, Nicki Minaj, Drake, and British pop stars The Feeling. Even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have released a rosé from their Chateau Miraval Estate in France.
Whether you’re picking up a bottle to take to a cookout, looking for something to sip by the pool or simply want to see what all of the fuss is about, rosé is a must-have this summer.
By Cale Flage | Photography by Megan DeGance