Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thinking Pink: A Rosé Exposé

It’s summertime and summertime begs for patio time with a nice, big refreshing glass of…pink…What???? No, I’m not crazy! I don’t mean for you to rush to the store to buy the first pink wine you see. (Chances are the first pink wine you’ll see in the grocery store aisle and is called White Zinfandel, a sweet wine that earned popularity in the 70s in Napa Valley. And it kind of just never went away. There are people out there that really like it and that’s fine. Nothing wrong with that, however, I am going to move away from this.) Today’s lesson is to teach you that there is more to “pink wine” than the obvious. Case in point--I have recently learned that there are Rosé wines made from nearly every red grape varietal. I’m so glad I've been introduced to the fabulous world of Rosé wines. I really can’t get enough of them!

There's a huge misconception about Rosé. Once people realize how wrong they were about it, it will be enough to make them, no pun intended, BLUSH! Many just assume it is sweet so they stay away. But the reality of it is that the hgher alcohol levels (13%+) make for a flavorful dry wine and the perfect accompanyment for your outdoor sipping needs. Awhile back, I posted a poll on Facebook's WineBeagles application. I asked if anyone was up for sipping Rosé this Summer. Most said "No! EW! I'm not drinking that!" They had no clue. So I did my research. I found many that offer something for everyone. A crisp cool Summer drink for even the most picky of red wine lovers.

What is Rosé and how is it made? There are three ways to make Rosé. The first would be to crush the red grapes and have the juice come in contact with the red skins for a relatively short period of time. The skin of red wine grapes contain all color and tannin. The longer the juice has contact with the skins, the darker and richer the color of the wine will be. This method is used primarily when the main purpose is to make Rose’ wine only.

The second method is called “Saignee” which literally means to bleed the vats. Sometimes during red wine production, a winemaker will remove some of the pink juice in an effort to make a more intensely colored and flavored red wine. The pink juice is fermented separately to make Rosé.

There is a third way to make Rosé, though it is uncommon. It involves blending red and white finished wines to create a pink wine. And no, there is no such thing as adding red food coloring to a white wine to make pink as someone pointed out once in a wine class I attended. This isn’t Kool-Aid, people!

After many months of searching, sampling and taste testing all kinds of Rosé, I came up with a list of fine examples! To the winemakers who created these wines, you should be proud. These, in my opinion, represent some of the BEST Rosé wines available right now!

The 2008 Corazon Napa Valley Rosé was recently sent to me by the winemaker herself, Cathy Corison. Cathy is a Napa Valley key player and legendary producer of Cabernet Sauvignon. Her winery, Corison Winery, is located in St. Helena right on Highway 29. I was pleasantly surprised to see how light in color this wine was. Light in color but definitely not light in flavor. This wine, bottled only weeks ago, has tremendous potential. At the moment it tastes like a cranberry-plum Jolly Rancher if there ever was such a flavor. The finish lingers on and on and it’s just amazing. I want to be sitting on a patio in Napa Valley sipping on this! Let this wine sweep you away too! It‘s a keeper! $24.

The next one is the 2009 Dry Creek Vineyard Petite Zin. Recently I had the pleasure of hanging out with friends Kim Stare-Wallace, whose family owns Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Vineyard in Healdsburg and Bill Smart, the winery’s marketing coordinator. We were in Washington and I was going on and on about Rosé, so they gifted me their latest and greatest addition to their line. What a great addition! I could seriously drink this wine forever! Imagine a watermelon-rhubarb mix with a peppery kick. Bone dry and fabulous! (and yes, it may be made of Zinfandel and Petite Sirah but it is not a White Zinfandel!) And for $17, I hope it comes to a store near you--and me!!!

Next is the 2008 Dusted Valley Ramblin’ Rosé. Awhile back I did a nice post on Dusted Valley, Wine Press Northwest’s Winery of the Year for 2010. During the WBCorBust trip, I spent my last evening tasting wines at a private party held at Basel Cellars in Walla Walla. There I met Dusted Valley co-owner/winemaker Chad Johnson and I managed to sample an entire line-up of his wines including 2008 Ramblin’ Rosé--a Rosé of Mourvedre. Yep, you are hearing it right… I am enamored with this wine! Deep plummy flavors and a slightly spicy kick. This wine was fabuloso! Alas, I have to wait until the next vintage to get more as this one is a popular one for them and they cannot ship to me during the Summer months!

Next, we’re on to the state of Oregon, where Pinot Noir is KING and where the most sophisticated of wine lovers will find great Rosé made of Pinot Noir! I recently attended a local wine club and the evening’s theme was wines of the Willamette Valley. I was pleasantly surprised to find the 2009 Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé to be a wonderful value at $13! Light pink with just a touch of cranberry, cinnamon and watermelon flavors--it was a near perfect balance of a refreshing warm weather quaffer coupled with the sophistication of an Oregon Pinot Noir. Mighty tasty!

Who knew they made a Rosé of Malbec? They do in Argentina! A couple nights ago, I participated in a TasteLive event on Twitter. The event featured Argentinian white wines and the token Rosé . I had received them as samples and I was bursting at the seams with joy when I opened the box and I saw the 2009 Crios Rosé Of Malbec!! A $12 value worth every penny! It was the darkest in color of all the ones I had tried having been created through the “Saignee” method. This was like drinking a glass of rich, flavorful red wine only cool, crisp and refreshing. Winemaker Susana Balbo treats all her wines as if they were her children. She truly knows the secret to making a great Rosé. I want more of this wine, please!

Last but not least, I'd like to mention one more wine I feel deserves merit. Unfortunately, for the time being, it is sold out. The 2008 Selene Wines Napa Valley Rosé . I am anxiously awaiting the next vintage because it is really tasty! I was so excited when a sample of this wine showed up at my house! I knew it was going to be great! It is made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes by Mia Klein, a Napa Valley winemaker who has generated a lot of media buzz the past few years. Best known for her Cabernets and Merlots, she has made a really wonderful Rose’ worth seeking out. Loads of fruit (pomegranate comes to mind) and tropical undertones! $20.

For more information on these and other wines from the wineries featured in this blog post, please check out their websites:

Please note: I was unable to find a winery website for Crios. You may be able to learn more at

So please go ahead...Don't be afraid! Enjoy the remaining days of Summer with a crisp, refreshing Rosé! You'll be happy you did! Cheers!


  1. Just bought a Belleruche Cotes-du-Rhone from M. Chapoutier - looking forward to having it with a Moroccan chicken dish tonight (hope it works.)

    Another surprising Rose was a Bardolino Chiaretto Classico from Guerrieri Rizzardi - it was a 4th of July crowd pleaser and easy food wine.


  2. I love trying Rosés from different regions. I like the Crias Rosé of Malbec a lot. Another simply delicious Rosé is Pares Balta Ros de Pacs. And I have to mention my love of Amista Vineyards' Rosé of Syrah. So many good wines! Thanks for all of your recommendations; I will try to fit them in as summer fades away :)

  3. I too have become a big fan of Rose'. One you also may try is Ceja Vineyards wonderful Rose'. Thanks for sharing Grace. Looks like I have a few new ones to try!


  4. Rosés have become a warm weather fave of mine, too! The local grocery stores with large inventories of wine do not carry dry Rosé. I have to travel to the wine stores to find a very limited selection.

    Excellent post!!!