Red Hot Rose

Don't blush, it's OK to drink rose.

Rosé wine possesses a simple sexiness that’s lip smacking, refreshing, fragrant and lovely. And with plenty of alluring examples from around the globe popping up on retail shelves and wine lists, there has never been a better time to think pink.

We’re not talking about your grandmother’s white Zinfandel, either. Think of rosé as a red wine with interesting complexity but much less color. It may be made with various single grape types and can even blend multiple grapes together.

France’s Rhône Valley rosés, namely from the Tavel region, use the Grenache grape, which produces blackberry and peppercorn aromas, a good dose of alcohol and a lovely orange tinge.

In Spain, this same grape is called Garnacha and is used to make both still and sparkling rosés. California has also been seeing pink lately with good examples coming from the Anderson, Carneros and Napa valleys produced from Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Merlot grapes.

So how do rosés garner their lovely color? The same way red wines become red: from the grape skin. Remove the skin before fermentation and the wine will be white. Leave the skins on and the wine will be ruby red; leave the skins in contact for just a few hours and the wine will be pink or rosé. Rosé wine is best-consumed young and crisp to highlight the wine’s fun-loving lightness and mouthwatering acidity.

Served chilled, rosé wines are reds that drink like whites, making them perfect late-summer quaffers. Try a Spanish sparkling rosé Cava or French Tavel with Sunday brunch, homemade pizza or even grilled meats such as lamb or chicken.

Regardless of the region or grape, rosé wines are red hot and offer a festive nod to the changing seasons. You might even go as far to say that this year “everything’s coming up rosé.”

Marianne Frantz, CWE and founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by sommelier Mike Tomaselli of Vue in selecting wines for this month’s Cellar Notes. If you are interested in exploring rosé by the glass, visit Vue in Hudson and ask for a Round of Rosé — three 2-ounce pours at a very friendly price of $9.

Roederer Estate Brut Rosé, Anderson Valley, California ($27): Crisp and refreshing with strawberry, red licorice, toasty aromas balanced by a delicate mousse and light tannins. Perfect for a romantic summer dinner or festive brunch.

2004 Amador Foothill Winery Rosato of Sangiovese, Amador County, California ($12): Medium bodied, high acid-ity and cranberrylike tartness with red berries, spiced red apple and herbal aromas; try alongside tomato and mozzarella salad or a pasta dish.

2004 Solo Rosa Rosé, California ($15): Soft muddled fruit, raspberry, green peppercorn and a hint of earthiness; this Merlot-Sangiovese blend is a perfect match for antipasta and grilled meats.

2003 Tassajara Rosé, Paso Robles, California ($20): Medium body with mouth-warming alcohol and aromas of smoked cherries, dried herb, rosés and spiced meat; a blend of Syrah and Grenache grapes, this is a red wine drinker’s rosé.

2003 Chteau De Ségriès, Tavel, France ($17): Light bodied with a pink-orange hue; wild strawberries, black pepper aromas and mouthwatering acidity make this rosé a great food wine.

2004 Calatayud Rosé, Spain ($8): Light bodied, refreshing acidity balanced by medium alcohol; herbal, green peppercorn aromas with light tannins and a slightly bitter finish.

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