Real Men Drink Rose

Not just for girls anymore, pink makes a perfect summertime drink.
Once thought to be reserved for baby girls, Barbie’s convertible and grandma’s “blush” wine, pink is now hot — and not just among the gentler sex.

It seems the same holds true for rosé wine.

Visitors in the south of France quickly notice that everyone drinks rosé on a hot summer day — and with good reason. Rosé is inexpensive, easy to drink, does not require aging and pairs well with most summertime fare such as simple salads, grilled sausages or a margarita pizza.

Now, the tasty trend has crossed the pond as more Americans (both male and female) are sipping rosé. In fact, sales of premium-priced rosés (a modest $6 and up) increased 45 percent last year, according to market research firm The Neilson Co. And 28 new rosé brands cropped up in 2006, compared to 15 the year before.

While understanding rosé is easy, it helps to know that pink does not mean sweet. Many rosés are off-dry or bone dry (which may or may not be on the label). When in doubt, ask the retail clerk or restaurant server.

Secondly, rosés get their lovely blush color from the skins of red grapes. The actual hue and flavor will vary based on the choice of grape used to make the wine. A rosé from the southern Rhône Valley of France, for example, is made from Grenache grapes and is often salmon in color with a bit of spiciness on the palate. While ruby-pink rosé from California Pinot Noir is full of wild strawberry aromas, Argentina rosado gets its deep cherry color and juicy berry aromas from the Malbec.

Still, be sure to select a recent vintage — 2005 or 2006 — as rosé is ready to drink upon release and is best in its youth. The recommend serving temperature is the same as for light-bodied whites (around 50 to 54 degrees Fahrenheit), which means take it straight from the refrigerator. Since rosé is designed to be consumed young, many bottles are sealed with a screw cap, making it a great option for picnic sipping.

With more Americans drinking pink, getting in touch with your rosé side is a good thing. So try a refreshing glass alone, or dare we suggest pairing it with an oversized wedge of quiche?

Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by some of Northeastern Ohio’s top tasters, the NEOenophiles, in selecting wine for this month’s Cellar Notes.  

2006 Les Deux Rives Rosé, Corbières, France ($9): Salmon hue indicative of Grenache from the Rhône Valley. Medium bodied with wild strawberry, apricot and cherry aromas all balanced by a dash of white pepper spice. Think grilled portobello or tuna steak.
2006 Chakana Rosé, Luján de Cuyo, Argentina ($13): Ruby-pink hue from the Malbec grape. Candied cherry aromas coupled with a hint of earthiness on the palate. Medium body and moderate acidity provides a lasting finish.
2005 Dona Paula Los Cardos, Luján de Cuyo, Argentina ($12): Dry rosé from Malbec grapes. Vivid ruby hue with lively strawberry, cranberry and sour cherry aromas. Crisp acidity and moderate alcohol make it perfect for summer sipping.
2005 Gran Feudo Rosé, Navarra, Spain ($11): 100 percent Granache; dry with light body, medium acidity and lots of red fruit and a peppery finish. Great with grilled sausages or a simple salad. A fun and festive quaffer.
2005 Bastianich Rosato, Colli Orientali, Italy ($15): Crafted from Italy’s indigenous Refosco grape and named after celebrity chef Lidia Bastianich, the wine’s soft red fruit and crisp acidity make it a natural for grilled pizza or pasta salads.
2005 Etude Rosé, Carneros, California ($20): Dry, pale rosy pink with vivid strawberry aromas of Pinot Noir. Crisp acidity and moderate alcohol provide a balanced finish. Try this wine with grilled pork or lamb chops.

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