WASHINGTON — Like a good fire extinguisher, a cache of crisp, refreshing wines is always a useful thing to have on hand during the summer.
And just like a fire extinguisher, when you need one, you’ll be glad you have one that works.
Some of my favorite wines to ice down on a hot day are rosés. And while they’re no longer just for summer, I still find myself gravitating toward these pretty pink drinks when the weather warms up and I have a prodigious urge to chill out.
For the money — and fortunately, most rosés are easy on the wallet — few wines are as versatile as rosés. Served well-chilled, they’re the perfect hammock companion or aperitif. Served slightly chilled, they can keep up with grilled seafood or roasted chicken. And the sparkling versions simply shout, “party on.”
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. One of the most popular methods for making rosé is saignée — literally “bleeding” — where the grape juices are bled away from the skins soon after the grapes are crushed. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the darker the wine will be. Blending white and red wines together is not a popular method, nor is the use of oak in the aging of rosé wines. These wines, for the most part, are meant to be enjoyed young.
Since many different wine grapes lend themselves to rosé production, they can be found in just about every winemaking region in the world. The most popular come from the Provence region of France and are typically made from Rhone varietals including carignan, Grenache, mouvedre and syrah. I also have had some wonderful rosé wines from Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia, Chile and, of course, right here in America. The qualities I look for in a rosé are fresh red fruits flavors — running along the lines of strawberry and raspberry — and abundant acidity for crispness.
Here is an assortment of rosés from around the world to keep your internal temperature from hitting the boiling point this summer. Best of all, at less than $20 a bottle, these value-oriented wines will definitely help your wallet stay cool as well. All you need is an ice bucket … and a hammock couldn’t hurt.
Sparkling wines are a great way to beat the heat and add a celebratory note at the same time. From one of the oldest wine establishments in Spain, the Nonvintage Codorniu Brut Pinot Noir Rosé Cava provides thirst-quenching notes of bright red cherry, wild strawberry and a touch of brioche. The medium bubbles deliver the flavors over the entire palate and onto the finish, where hints of pomegranate join in for an extra layer of depth. A wonderful choice to enjoy with lobster salad or baked Brie. $15
From the land of rose wines, Provence, France, hails the 2016 M de Minuty Rosé by Château Minuty, located on the St-Tropez Peninsula, and considered the archetype of Provence rosé. A blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, its pale pink color practically announce its fragrant strawberry-laded nose. The wine is dry and crisp with bright fruit flavors of strawberries and red raspberries. The long finish has just a hint of watermelon — and who doesn’t like watermelon on a hot day? Serve it well-chilled with grilled salmon or a fruit and cheese plate. $16
Concha y Toro is one of the most famous wine producers in Chile. Their 2016 Casillero del Diablo Rosé is a blend of syrah grapes from their vineyards in the Rapel and Maule Valleys. It possesses a floral bouquet featuring beautiful red berry fruit scents and hints of violet while flavors of wild strawberry and ripe red plums are supported by bright acidity. The clean, dry finish has just a touch of cranberry. Perfect with burgers or pizza. $11
Tattoo artist Scott Campbell is on a personal mission of following his passions in life. Named after his acclaimed tattoo studio in Brooklyn, New York, his 2016 SAVED Magic Marker Rosé from California is an “expression of the freedom of craft,” including the label artwork, which has hidden meaning behind the design. The dry Rosé is blended primarily using Grenache, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Sangiovese. A delicious rosé wine with bright flavors of strawberry, red cherry and ripe peach that coat the tongue. Its generous mouthfeel and crisp acidity make it a winner with grilled salmon. $15