Most people over 50 likely know rosé as Mateus, whiles others might think of sweet white zins of the 1980s. Rosé is much more stylish yet multi-purpose than those. Looking for a stylish quaffing wine to enjoy on the patio during the heat of the summer? How about a wine for someone just starting to move from white wines to reds? Stop and smell the rosé -- its user-friendly style makes it great for many occasions.
Rosés can be found from many wine-producing countries, including France and Spain but also Califor-nia, South Africa and even Italy, in a wide variety of shades, styles and forms. Rosé wines are a great value: Many are priced between $10-$20 and meant to be bought and consumed young. For those who enjoy sparkling wine, there are a number of rosé sparkling wines from California and champagnes from France, but be prepared to pay a bit more for them.
Much of rosé is found in France, particularly from the southeastern region of Rhône and from the Anjou appellation of Loire where they are made with such grapes as gamay, malbec, cabernet franc and pinot noir. Southern Rhône, home to Côte du Rhône wines, is also home to Tavel appellation that produces high-quality rosé wines typically using grenache grapes. Tavel rosé wine is typically made from grenache and cinsault grapes to give these very dry wines a medium body and refreshing acids -- and its slightly higher price point.
Rosé wines are typically made using one of two processes. One, called pre-fermentation maceration, puts the red grape skins briefly in contact with the grape juice before the actual fermentation starts. The second method involves combining small amounts of red wine with white wine; it is considered the more controversial of the two.
Rosé wines are friendly food partners, especially when served with spicy Asian or Thai food or the simple meats and cheeses of summertime picnic fare. I typically have bought rosé wines -- specifically Domaine LaFond Tavel ($14.99) rosé -- at Easter to enjoy with traditional holiday ham. But lately I've been serving it with cheeses and now certain seafoods, such as shrimp or salmon. The 2003 Domaine de la Mordorée ($14) was a great fit with a grilled tuna and niçoise salad on a warm summer night. Its light fruit and slightly acidic feel matched with well with the richness of the tuna. The Domaine served as a very friendly starter on the patio sans food.
If you're looking for something with a little more body, check out 2002 Bodegas Ochoa Garnacha Navarra Rosado ($8). We enjoyed this wine with mild cheeses, but it could easily hold up against something larger.