A summertime favorite that pairs easily with food

As the warm days of spring and summer arrive here in Central Texas, rosé wines are a refreshing wine option and perfect for the season. At its best, rosé wine is transcendent, rich in history, and can be produced from a number of different dark-skinned grapes (red or black).

Rosé wines are far-ranging in flavor and expressive of terroir (the microclimate where the grapes are grown) with a multitude of grape sources from around the world. The most astonishing quality of rosé wine is the ease with which it can be paired with food, from summer salads to grilled game. Rosé matches up effortlessly and can bring out the hidden flavors of the food pairing. Rosé was a favorite of King Louis XIV and the popes of Avignon, France, and even today is a staple of the French countryside. The most famous region in the world for rosé is the Tavel, located in the Rhone region of southern France. The main grapes for the rosé from Tavel are grenache, cinsault, Syrah and mouvedre (all dark-skinned grapes). Tavel rosé wines tend to have more body and structure than most other rosés and are one of a handful that can embrace a few years in the cellar (most rosé wines are produced in a style that is meant to be consumed young).
While it is quite common to see “pink or blush” wines throughout Europe, these wines are in fact rosé, a drier style of wine than the sweeter white zinfandel that is more familiar to the United States. Although white zinfandel is produced from the black-skinned zinfandel grape varietal, it is in fact a sweet pink blush wine and not a dry rosé style of wine. There are three ways to make rosé wine: the skin contact method where the skin of the grape sits in contact with the juice (used in Tavel), the Saignée method (also known as bleeding or running off juice from just-crushed dark-skinned grapes prior to fermentation) or the blending method (the combining of red and white wine juice). Rosé wines can be produced in a sparkling, a semi-sparkling or a still (noneffervescent) style. Additional dark-skinned grapes used to produce rosé outside of Tavel include cabernet sauvignon, malbec, merlot, pinot noir, tannat, tempranillo, Syrah, and countless others. The different varietals offer distinctive flavor profiles for each wine. In Portugal or Spain rosé is known as “rosado,” while in Italy it is known as “rosato.”

Pairing rosé with food
Rosé offers a perfect accompaniment to the traditional wild game of Texas or a festive summertime Sunday brunch of yogurt, wild berry fruits and croissants. From beginning to end, rosé can carry the dinner party or any social gathering. For starters, appetizer pairing suggestions include smoked salmon served on a toasted baguette with an herb cream cheese or artisan bread toasted and topped with spinach, blue cheese and chorizo.

Pairing the food and wine within a region or country is a great way to embrace the unique essence of the particular area. For example, serve a Spanish chorizo with a Spanish rosé. The salad course can be as simple as sprinkled goat cheese, pine nuts and fresh-cut strawberries over field greens with strawberry vinaigrette dressing.

Rosé can handle our Texas meat lovers as well, complementing such favorites as grilled venison chops with wild mushroom polenta or roasted stuffed Texas quail with a port wine reduction glaze served with fresh vegetables and three-cheese polenta. As echoed above, rosé is seamless and pairs harmoniously with most cuisine, reflecting the graciousness of classic rosé wine. Characteristically, rosé wines are of medium to high acidity, always crisp and refreshing, with bright fruit qualities. Note that wines of pronounced acidity are the best to match with food.

by Denise Easdon