As sure a sign of spring as blooming crocuses is the arrival of rosé wine from last year’s harvest. It’s the start of a joyous time of year, as the weather starts to warm and the days get noticeably longer we look to lighter-bodied, more casual wines and dry rosé fits the bill perfectly. I say “dry rosé” because I’m referring to the traditional style of pink wine that’s a common summer beverage in the countries along the Mediterranean. In the United States, this style has become very popular in the last few years and the memory of sweet rosés, such as white zinfandel, is fading into the rear view mirror.
We are just at the start of the season and drinking rosés will be a great option from now through the end of summer. I feel it’s perfect for our lifestyle here on Long Island. The refreshing, unpretentious nature of these wines suits our seaside culture of boating, beaches, social gatherings and outdoor dining and the versatility of dry rosé makes it a wonderful partner at the table with a wide variety of foods.
Rosé is not generally meant to be a complex, serious wine, although exceptions exist. What we’re looking for is basic, enjoyable drinking with a fresh, crisp fruitiness and liveliness that cleanses the palate. Within this, you will find some stylistic differences. For very bright wines with mouthwatering acidity, try versions from the Loire Valley in France like Anjou Rosé or bottles from Chinon or Sancerre. A more full-bodied style with some herbaceous notes is the norm in Provence, an area famous for rosé production. Some people rely on color when choosing wines, the most popular being a pale pink or salmon hue, and mistakenly think that a darker rosé will be less dry. That’s just not true. Wonderful dry rosés from Spain and southern Italy have a deeper color and can offer great value. I would be remiss here not to include some great local choices as well. Several wineries on the East End make excellent rosé as do producers in the Finger Lakes. Other countries also get into the act. One of the most popular rosés in my shop is from Austria.
As I mentioned, there are some serious rosés to be had and wines from the French villages of Bandol and Cassis are at the top of the list. These wines can have the entire package, a full, creamy mouthfeel, complex flavors beyond the fruit carried by a buoyant acidity. I like to enjoy these examples with a nice meal. Try one with grilled striped bass to see what I mean.
Spring is here so drink rosé.
Michael Amendola is wine director at The Village Wine Merchant in Sea Cliff. Learn more about wines at www.villagewinemerchant.com.