Putting Mom in the Pink
Pink is girly, lady-like, soft, elegant and oh-so-appropriate for the gentler sex. And pink is also the color of the fastest growing category of wines.
Rosé wines are jumping off retailer shelves and restaurateur's wine lists. No one in the wine business has any idea why these pretty, pleasant, surprising wines – all of a sudden – are the darlings of wine drinkers around the world. It’s all the more surprising because for years, wine writers and critics – including yours truly – have been trying to encourage people to drink pink. Up to now, it’s been a lot of chatter to no response.
And then, less than a year ago, public opinion responded/woke up/got tired of the badgering and the wines became officially “hot.”
The reasons for the new success of pink wine are neither here nor there. What’s great is that mouths, minds and noses are open to this fantastic expression of red grapes. Years ago, there were some horribly made, ridiculously structured and sickeningly sweet wines that were pink. They were good sellers but they were (at best) terrible wines, made by corporations, both domestic and European, who thought they had a “read” on America’s tastes. It was likely a damaging comment on our lack of understanding and appreciation of what good wine was supposed to be. Then everyone wised up and moved on, away from blush wines, as they are also known.
Meanwhile, in southern France, winemakers continued to make rosé wines of fantastic character. They were elegant, soft and true expressions of the grapes from which the wines were made. America did not care or was not interested. Either way, those wonderful wines were greeted with a collective “meh” from what has now become the largest wine drinking nation on earth.
Let’s step back a bit here and see what rosé wines really are, and what they are not. In the latter category, they are not syrupy, sugary, gigantic, soft-drink sweet, unstructured fruit bombs. They are low alcohol (for the most part), food-friendly, refreshing, delightful, easy-drinking and easy to love wines.
Rosé wines are made by:
* Taking the almost-wine liquid away from the skins of the grapes during the early stages of the red grape fermentation (the conversion of sugar to alcohol) process.
* Taking the red grape wine skins away from the liquid and discarding the organic material.
* Blending white wine and red wine to achieve a desired result. This is the least acceptable manner in which to make rosé because the resulting structure of the wine will not be elegant, a hallmark of rosé wine. For the winery, this is the least expensive way to proceed.
Rosé wines can be made from just about any red grape. The favorites, found in the Provence region of France (modern home to this type of wine), are syrah and grenache. Sometimes both grapes are used and sometimes the wine is made entirely with one varietal. Other red grapes that work for this style of wine are pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, carignan, cinsault and mourvedre.
Just about any rosé wine originating from Provence in France is good. The Tavel area in the southern Rhone is also renowned for their rosé wines. Toward the western end of France’s Loire Valley, around the town of Anjou, rosés made from cabernet franc are featured and respected. Spain and Portugal also make excellent rosé wines, known as Rosado. Those wines are usually made from tempranillo or touriga nacional grapes.
Around America, today we are seeing many more rosé wines from California and Oregon – many made from pinot noir.
In the 1970s, the term “blush” was coined in reference to the American wines of pale red hue. White Zinfandel is in this category, and that’s the last time I will be mentioning it.
An important aspect, especially for south Louisiana, of rosé wines is their ability to pair with fresh seafood. Our base preparations of shrimp, crabmeat and oysters, where the seafood is not covered with sauce or fried, are ideal matches.
And so, if you are wondering what to get your mother on her designated day, coming up this Sunday, May 10, think pink. The very good news here is that you will also be the happy recipient of your good taste…and love.
A few rosé wine suggestions that are available at local wine emporiums, like Pearl Wine on Orleans Avenue:
Chateau Pesquie Terrasses Rose – Cotes du Ventoux, France
Domaine Lafage Miraflors Rose – Cotes du Roussillon, France
My Essential Rosé from Master Sommelier Richard Betts – Provence, France
Lieu Dit Rose of Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara, United States
Graham Beck Sparkling Rose – Western Cape, South Africa
Moët & Chandon Rose' – Champagne, France
Coste Brulade Rosé – Cotes de Provence, France
Domaine D’Astros Rosé – Cotes de Provence, France
Domaine La Jeanne Rosé – Pays D’Oc, France