Rosés to Make You Blush
Ranging in color from salmon to strawberry, rosé is the perfect summer drink.
Don’t confuse rosé and blush. Blushes are pink, but the resemblance stops there. Blushes are deliberately sweet, whereas rosés are dry and offer the aromas and flavors of red wine without the heaviness.
Pink wines are made from red grapes. All grapes, even dark purple ones, have clear-colored juice. To make red wine, the clear juice is allowed to rest with the dark skins for an extended period – as long as two months. The longer the juices stew with the skins the deeper the colour.
When making rosé, winemakers simply whisk the juice away from the dark skins a few days after crushing. The wine absorbs only a small amount of color and accrues little of the astringent tannins and bitterness that result from prolonged contact with the skins.
The most internationally acclaimed rosés are from southern France and are made from Grenache, a widely planted yet little acknowledged grape. Easy to cultivate, Grenache produces light, fruity and savory wines.
Tavel in France is one of the finest rosé districts in the world. Delas Tavel La Comballe 2003 (Watson’s, HKD$198) is a classic Grenache: dry, with fruity and citrus peel flavors and an occasional whiff of wild herbs and flowers. Sip this wine while flipping the pages of Peter Mayle’s Provencal novel, French Lessons.
Both the Barossa Valley and McClaren Vale in Australia produce Grenache based wines, so it is no surprise to discover a tasty 2004 rosé from Turkey Flat Vineyards, Barossa Valley (Watson’s, HKD$128). It has a pale ruby color, with a soft, silky palate of delicate raspberries and strawberries, open this bottle when serving a simple grilled fish or mesclun salad topped with a poached egg and strips of crisp grilled pancetta.
Rosés are often produced from a vineyard’s finest grapes. Why use prized juice to make pink wine? In regions where it is difficult to create dark red wines, winemakers “bleed” clear grape juice from the main batch of wine, leaving heaps of skins to color the remaining juice.
Chateau de Sours Bordeaux rosé (Watson’s, HKD$145) is made from running the juice off Merlot grapes 24-36 hours after they are crushed. The resulting wine is a pretty ruby color, with jubilant fruitiness and more mouth drying tannins than one would find in Grenache-based wines. Sip a glass of this wine with herb-crusted roasted lamb rack.
Fancy making your own rosé? Some winemakers simply splash a finished red wine into a vat of white wine. Blending two colors is considered a no-no by the great rosé producers of Provence, but for centuries the winemakers in Champagne have used this technique to craft superb rosé Champagne.
Grill veal chops and serve with Moet et Chandon Brut Rosé Champagne (Watson’s, HKD$398), a tart, dry sparkling rosé with cranberry, lemon and orange rind flavors. Rosé should be served chilled and is best enjoyed outdoors, accompanied by the scent of a gently smoking grill, fresh strawberries and a vase of summer roses.