Summer is full of food related gatherings, such as picnics and barbecues. The meals at these gatherings can be very diverse causing difficulties in wine food pairing. Salads, sandwiches, cheeseburgers, bratwurst and green stuff that appears to be jello, all pose a problem when pairing with wine. As your personal wine consultant, I feel a certain sense of responsibility in making sure that you serve or bring the perfect bottle of wine.
The perfect summer wine for any occasion is…..rose’. Yes, I know it’s pink. Guys may feel the need to have their significant other actually give the bottle of rose’ to the host, in order to maintain their guy card. I also know that a nice bottle of rose’ compliments almost every type of summer cuisine.
Rose’ wines have come a long way since the days of “white zinfandel”. Those sweet wines that were so popular 10-15 years ago nearly killed off the rose’ wine. Today, rose’ is making a big comeback in the northwest as most Oregon winemakers are making much drier rose’. These wines are still a beautiful pink color, but now their dry finish is equally beautiful. The other thing I love about rose’ is that you can get an excellent bottle of wine without breaking the bank.
You will find rose’ to be made from several primary red grape varietals, including Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Grenache.
As we all know, Pinot Noir offers flavors of dark cherry, tobacco, minerality and spice. But, when made as a rose’, Pinot Noir develops very different aromas and tastes. As a rose’, Pinot Noir now delivers citrus flavors, typically grapefruit, with hints of cherry. My favorite rose’ of Pinot Noir come from Apolloni Vineyards (Forest Grove, OR) and Stoller Vineyards (Dayton, OR).
Sangiovese is a well known Italian grape that typically delivers black cherry and black berry to your mouth. Again, the flavor profile changes dramatically, when Sangiovese is made into a rose’. As a rose’, Sangiovese offers raspberry and strawberry flavors. My favorite rose’ of Sangiovese come from A to Z (Newberg, OR), and Barnard Griffin (Richland, WA).
Grenache is a Spanish grape known for its black berry, cherry and pepper flavors. But, as a rose’ it delivers raspberry and strawberry flavors, similar to the Sangiovese. My favorite Grenache rose’ comes from Borsao (Spain), and Abacela (Roseburg, OR).
For serving, I recommend that you chill the rose’ as cold as possible. While it’s true that wine tends to be tighter and less aromatic when it’s cold, but because it’s going to be served outside and will warm up quickly. You should try to start with a really cold bottle of rose’. As the wine warms, it will have the opportunity to open up and fully develop its aromas.
Please remember to drink responsibly. A summer picnic or gathering can go on for hours. Combine that with the light taste of the rose and you can easily overindulge. Take it slow and rotate in a soda or water, to make sure you aren’t drinking too much of a good thing. If you think you’ve had too much rose’, make sure you don’t drive. Instead, get a ride from a friend or family member. Without a doubt, you will be the focus of many rose’ wine related jokes, but that is much better than the alternative.