“Rosé?” you might ask. “I thought rosé was a cheap sweet wine best known for its popularity in the ’70s?”
On the contrary, rosé is the perfect summertime wine. It is usually a simple dry wine (the cheap bottles are sometimes sweet) that is best when chilled and easy to indulge in. It’s not a wine you would have at the dinner table, but it’s certainly a wine you would sip while sitting in a lawn chair.
Rosé is always made from red grapes, and you can make rosé from just about any red grape, although it is rarely made from the heavier varietals, because it is meant to be a simple, light-bodied wine. When a red wine is made, the juice is left on the grape skins for up to two weeks so that it can absorb all the color, flavor and tannin possible during fermentation. When a rosé is made, the juice is left on the skins for a limited period of time, maybe only a couple of hours. Then, the juice is pumped off the skins and left to ferment on its own. Those couple of hours with the skins are enough time to make the wine pink; however, the rosé doesn’t exude the tannin or complexity that a red wine would.
Most decent rosés will be almost complete dry and in the $15 to $25 price range. They are always light-bodied and can have varying characteristics, like cotton-candy, mint, strawberry, herbs and cherries. The good ones will have light acidity to help balance them. If rosé were an actress, she would be Tara Reid.
Some local rosé producers include Hunter Hill, Poetic Cellars, Hallcrest Vineyards and Bonny Doon.
Also, if you ever come across a rosé from a French producer named Bandol, buy it immediately. It’s the best rosé I have ever had — and, quite frankly, one of the most balanced wines I’ve ever tasted. Cheers!
Austin Twohig is a certified sommelier and partner in The Santa Cruz Experience, which conducts winery tours in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.