[colored_box color=”red”]rosé |rōzā|
noun: any light pink wine, coloured by only brief contact with red grape skins. ORIGIN French, literally ‘pink’.[/colored_box]
Let’s be honest … When you think of a rosé wine, your crazy Aunt Wendy with the ‘80s doo or a tacky wedding reception probably comes to mind, not the super-hot-strapping-dude that you’re crushing on, or your brunch reservation on the The Hazelton’s patio.
Although its origins date back to Claret production in Bordeaux in the 15th century, up until the early part of the 20th century it nearly reached extinction. At the time, red wine was reserved for peasants and workers, while rosé was the go-to wine of the bourgeois in the 1960s. Cut to the ‘80s and ‘90s and good old ‘Blush’ came to town. No wonder it became a bit nausea-inducing for a while there.
After the fifteen-year blow to the poor wine’s self esteem with the reputation for being low quality and sugar driven, it’s been a slow road back. But at least it’s been a road paved by some of the most remarkable producers in the world, including Sancerre producer Pascal Cotat, and Domain Tempier from Bandol.
What most people don’t realize is that the better part of rosé wines are fermented dry and a far cry from that blush wine they once knew. Most of the high quality rosés are produced using the ‘saignée’ method, which comes from the French word for ‘bled’.
The process involves lightly crushing the grapes and then allowing the skin and juice to sit together anywhere from 8–24 hours. During the fermentation process the now pink juice is ‘bled’ from the tank to separate it from the grape skins and to prevent too many of the red characteristics from settling in. The rest of the juice then remains with the skins and is on its way to becoming a red wine.
Like every style of wine — even the great Burgundies and Barolos — there are good examples and poor examples. There are artisanal producers that ‘saignée’ themselves into the wine and there are tank farms that create fast food quality.
The absolute most important thing to remember though is that greatness in a wine is not defined by varietal, use of French oak or price point. Greatness in a wine should be defined by the following four points:
- The motherland of the grape resonates through the wine like a slap in the face.
- The fruit of the grape resonates through the wine like a perfect Georgia peach
- The sense of man’s involvement in these expressions should mirror the sound of Sarah Palin answering a question about debt reduction and the value of NATO: silence.
- The penetration of the wine on the palate should resonate like one’s first French kiss.
The best way to really dig into all of the above is by doing a little experiment at home.
Grab bottle of white, a bottle of cheapo red, a nice bottle of red and a rosé. (Might I suggest doing this with a group of friends so that I don’t get angry and confused hangover phone calls?)
Blindfold your guests and pour out the four wines, all of which should be the same temperature. I would suggest having small labels on the glasses indicating wine 1–4 or A–D so that they’re easy to speak to. Now — ask your guests to identify which of the wines is a cheap red, a nice red, a rosé and a white. I promise you, this will not be as easy as you may think and there is nothing more cool or humbling than to bring it back to basics. And hey… maybe you’ll start seeing things through rosé-coloured glasses.