Rose isn’t red or white wine, but something all its own. Keep these rose basics in mind when you buy rose:
• Rose isn’t white zinfandel (or white merlot or whatever). Roses are pink wines made with red grapes and they aren’t sweet. Why are they pink? Because the red grape skins are left in the fermenting grape juice just long enough to color the wine. There is a second, much less common method called bleeding, in which wine is siphoned from freshly pressed red wine.
• Rose’s fruit flavors are mostly red berries (think strawberry or cranberry) or watermelon. They should be served chilled, and they pair pretty much with any food, including beef and barbecue. Rose was made for Sunday afternoon, sitting on the back porch, rose in hand, burgers on the grill.
• Don’t buy old rose. Look for vintages that are a year old, and at most two. Roses are not made to age, and should be fresh and flavorful. The color in older vintages starts to fade, like paper that yellows. This isn’t as hard and fast a rule as it used to be, since so much rose is os much better made than the old days. But it’s still something to keep in mind.
• Rose styles vary by country (though these are becoming less noticeable as winemaking becomes more international). Spanish wines are going to be bone dry with less fruit flavor. French roses are not quite as dry as the Spanish, but they usually don’t have a lot of fruit flavor (and rose from Provence is among the best in the world). Some U.S. wines are so full of strawberry flavor that they seem sweet, but that’s your taste buds playing a trick on you.
Memorial Day weekend means it’s time for the annual rose post — where you won’t have to spend much more than $10 to have a good time.
Surprisingly, despite the weak dollar and the passage of all that time, that price point hasn ?t changed since the Wine Curmudgeon started writing an annual rose piece almost 10 years ago. There are still dozens of terrific roses that cost $10 or so from all over the world. The one thing that has changed? The quality of rose keeps getting better, and it ?s unusual to find a poorly made rose (something that wasn ?t necessarily true 10 years ago).
What you need to know about rose — after the jump:
The Wine Curmudgeon appreciated this wine the first time he tasted it, in those long ago days of newspaper wine columns. It’s cheap, it’s consistent, and it comes from a producer that cares about the quality of its inexpensive wine. What’s not to like?
However, I have neglected to review the Toad Hollow ($10, purchased) in the blog’s three-plus years of existence (though it is an original member of the $10 Hall of Fame). So let’s remedy this now as we celebrate rose wine on the blog this week; my annual rose preview will run tomorrow.
Look for lots of strawberry and acid to complement the fruit, which has always been a Toad Hollow trademark. The wine seemed a bit sweeter this vintage than in the past couple, though that may have been because it had not been in the bottle long enough for all of its bits to come together (a wine geek would describe a young wine like that as a little shocky).
Update: I did a little checking, and the wine is noticeably sweeter than usual this year. That’s disappointing, because this has always been one of the great dry roses produced in the U.S. It probably won’t stay in the Hall of Fame.
The biggest problem with Friday night's Planet Bordeaux Twitter tasting was that the Wine Curmudgeon couldn't drink the four wines over four nights, one night at a time. It was a shame to have to do them all at the same time.
Planet Bordeaux is a marketing effort to give well-made and well-priced wine from the less famous parts of the French region of Bordeaux exposure they don't normally get. The Twitter tasting was part of that effort; you can follow the tweets here. The tweeters, wine writers and bloggers, seemed impressed with the wines.
Here are my notes on the four wines, which kicks off rose week. The blog will feature the dry pink wine that too many of us don't appreciate, including a rose wine of the week on Wednesday and my annual rose preview on Thursday.
? Dourthe Grand Cuvee 2010 ($12, sample): This white is very New World in style, with grapefruit and pineapple in the middle. Well done; just not especially French.
? Chateau Ballan Larquette Rose 2010 ($16, sample): An interesting wine that divided the tweeters and is difficult to describe. Some said it smelled like tomatoes; others said red fruit. I liked it, but $16 is a problem.
? Chateau Fontenille 2010 ($14, sample): My favorite of the tasting — clean with deep red fruit and almost more red wine than rose. It's available in some markets for $10 a bottle, which makes it highly recommended.
The Wine Curmudgeon missed this last fall, which was quite a faux pas given how much I care about regional wine. New Mexico's Gruet Winery was named the best U.S. wine producer in 2010 in the quite prestigious International Wine and Spirits Competition. Pretty impressive for a regional winery, no?
So what better way to mark the third annual DrinkLocalWine.com conference this weekend in St. Louis than with one of my all-time favorites, Gruet's rose sparkling wine? How a family of expatriate French can make such terrific bubbly in New Mexico, using pinot noir and chardonnay that they grow, is beyond me. I'm just glad they're able to do it.
The rose ($14, purchased) has a firm acidic backbone, as quality sparkling wine should, and is balanced by softer berry fruit (strawberry?). Meanwhile, there is just enough caramel, another sign of well-made bubbly, to show that the Gruets know what they are doing. Drink this chilled on its own or with any kind of spring dinner, salad or picnic. And if you have any cold fried chicken around, it would do quite nicely.