WASHINGTON — It’s getting a tad warm out there, and one of my favorite styles of wines for summer sippin’ is rosé. But, I have to confess, I actually drink rosé wines all year long. I just use the excuse of warmer weather to enjoy them more often.
Rosé is not a specific varietal, but is a style of wine that generally ranges in color from soft pink to light purple, depending on which grapes are used and the winemaking technique employed.
Traditional red wines get their color from lengthy contact between the juice and the red grape skins. Most rosé wines are made using the saignée — literally “bleeding” — method where the juices are bled away from the skins soon after the grapes are crushed, leaving behind a pale-to-dark pinkish hue.
In addition, many different types of grapes are used to produce rosé. The most popular are made from Rhone varietals including Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah, as well as varietals popular in other grape growing regions such as Sangiovese, Malbec and Pinot Noir.
Rosé wines are generally produced with little or no oak, so the wines characteristically run to the bright red fruit side of the flavor spectrum. The abundant acidity provides a wine crisp and refreshing finish.
Best of all, rosés wines are versatile and easy on the wallet. Served well chilled, they make a great companion for the hammock on their own or they can keep up with grilled seafood or chicken as well as roasted pork. If you want to add a festive flair to your glass, try a sparkling version.
Looking for a wine to shout “Hola!” on the tongue? Try the 2015 Arrocal Rosa from the Ribera del Duero region of Spain. This rosé is made from 100 percent Tempranillo. It exudes aromas of strawberry and rhubarb on the nose and flavors of strawberries, peaches and cherries in the mouth. The finish is crisp and dry, so it will pair well with grilled or roasted chicken. It’s a lot of wine for only. $15
For a traditional rosé experience, pick up a bottle of 2014 Chateau de Lancyre Rosé, from the Coteaux du Languedoc appellation of France. The pretty salmon-pink color belies its pedigree of Syrah, Grenache and Cinsault, but produces a full-bodied wine dominated by flavors of red berries, lychee, and tropical fruit. The wonderful minerality and bright acidity act as a refreshing counterbalance, leaving a tangy sensation after each sip. $16
Many rosé lovers consider the 2014 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas Rosé from the Central Coast of California one of the finest rosés made in America. This outstanding rosé is made from Grenache, Mourvèdre and Counoise. It is bright and fresh with dried cherry, wild flower and watermelon along with crisp, balanced acidity and a racy finish. $20
The Loire Valley in France is traditionally thought of for its crisp Sauvignon Blanc and balanced chenin blanc wines, but the 2014 Domaine de la Chezatte Rosé from the Sancerre region will give you something new to think about. Made exclusively from pinot noir, the salmon pink color offers vibrant aromas of fresh strawberries and red cherries. Flavors of raspberry, watermelon and bright red cherry linger on a creamy frame — 40 percent of the wine is vinified and aged in neutral oak — and finishes with a delightful note of minerality and crisp acidity. $24
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