Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Patio Wine

We're now back from a week off and already my calendar is full again, as it was this afternoon. Today, as every year in May, I sit with my wine distributors and taste rosé wines to select one for our list for the summer. We typically run rosé on the wine list starting about Memorial Day (or whenever the rosés land in the US). We do not re-order rosé after Labor Day in the fall.

For me, rosé is the quintessential patio wine: the wine I reach for on a hot day on the patio when I want something light and refreshing. My other go-to wines for hot weather are Spanish Verdejo and Argentinean Torrontés. But no matter how much I try, I cannot get customers to order rosé. My only customers who order rosé seem to be those people in the restaurant and wine businesses.

What's the matter? Have you had a miserable experience with White Zinfandel?

This year, I picked a wonderful Syrah rosé from a cooperative winery in the Languedoc. It stood out in a fairly broad line up of rosés for having just the right balance of fruit, nose, and dryness. When I taste, I don't look at the bottle and I don't know the price. What I do know is that I picked the least expensive rosé of the lot and my sales rep said, "Isn't it a fantastic wine?"

This just goes to show that price is not always an indicator of quality (and also why you should let your sommelier help you pick a wine, especially if you are on a budget). I picked this no-name rosé over some big names such as Tavel.

While I have your attention, a bit about how rosé is made. There are a bunch of ways, but typically red grapes are crushed and the skins are left in contact with the juice for just a couple of days, then the skins are discarded. By contrast in red wine making, the skins stay in contact with the juice throughout the fermentation process.

Some really cheap rosés are made by blending a little red wine with white wine.

Maybe this is the year that you will give rosé another chance?

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