Wednesday, August 14, 2013

How to Buy a Rosé

I will keep this direct and simple. We still have quite a few weeks of warm and maybe hot weather. We will assume that you've decided you may want to give Rosés a shot and see how it goes. Hopefully, you're already enthused about them. Either way, a few basic facts can be useful for your buying experience.

#1: Most quality Rosés are dry wines. Fruitiness perhaps, but sugary sweetness...almost never. There are exceptions, but for that see #3 below. 

#2: Some of the pink wines that you have encountered in the past may simply have been inferior wines. I'm not saying they all were, but some of them definitely were. Without dropping names, large production Portuguese Rosés I encountered in the '80s, and almost all of the "White fill-in-the-blanks" are wines made via shortcuts. These wines fill a purpose, but fine wine appreciation is not one of them. (To be clear, I am a fan of the many high quality Portuguese wines available to us today.)

A Joke Perhaps, but It Came from Somewhere didn't it.
#3: A good wine shop will usually have a Rosé section, or at least segregate the Rosés from the other wines by country of origin. They should have a qualified wine consultant who will be happy to help you out. You'll be surprised by how much respect a simple request to review some quality Rosés will bring from that person. Don't be afraid. Don't be intimidated. It's only pink wine, after all.  You can do this.

#4: Start by choosing to buy Rosé for a specific purpose so you have a better chance of appreciating it right away. As I've mentioned in previous posts, hot weather, high humidity, and certain foods are all prime match ups. To really create the perfect storm, grill some salmon or tuna on a hot humid day, and have some Rosé chilled and ready. Having someone to share it with is a must. My wife and I almost consider it a thrill when we do this.

#5: Rosé wines actually help you recognize how they might taste just by the color. The lighter colored they are, the lighter the flavor will be. The pink and salmon colored wines are likely to show delicate flavors of strawberry, watermelon, and peach. The darker reddish pink wines are more likely to provide sharper berry flavors, with cherry, very ripe strawberry, and sometimes herbs or tropical fruit. From the sublimely ethereal Provence Rosés to the deep almost red Cerasuolos from Abruzzi, there is in fact a wide range of Rosés to sample. Dive in!

#6: If the process of dealing with all the unfamiliar foreign names is a hindrance, focus for now on the selection of Rosés from "new world" producers. As is customary in the United States, Argentina, Australia, and others, wines are usually labelled by the grape variety. That makes it easier to identify. There are many quality Rosés produced in the new world countries, but be sure to circle back to European wines eventually in your journey. They've been doing it much longer and I think it's safe to say, take it more seriously. 

Exploration is a huge part of what truly enjoying and appreciating wine is all about.
           Don't leave Rosé out of the picture. 

Stay tuned for a short series of Rosé wines I've been enjoying lately.

--  Marc Soucy,  FWS CSW


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