Hey all you TSP Readers! I am Kelly Coughlin from the blog, Local Hospitality. I am a Certified Sommelier turned blogger. I spent many years working at, opening, and running some amazing restaurants around the country. I started Local Hospitality as a way to talk about life through the lense of a hospitality leader. The Sister Project and I have been itching to get our pink drink on, and now that patio season has officially peaked its head, I thought I’d take the time to talk a little bit about our favorite warm weather beverage: rosé.
So, what the hell is rosé anyway?
Rosé is a style of wine intentionally made by the winemaker. To attain proper coloring, the wine must be made with all red or a combination of red and white grapes. There are a few ways you can produce it.
Maceration: This is one of the more common processes winemakers use. Maceration takes place when the grape juice sits (or macerates) with the grape skins. The skin is what gives wine its coloring. The longer the juice macerates with the skins, the darker the wine. For a rosé, the maceration typically takes no more than 24 hours, depending on the color the winemaker wants. Two great wines that are produced through maceration are Bisson’s Ciliegiolo Rose Golfo del Tigullio from the Ligurian Coast in Italy and Forge Cellars’ Rosé from the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.
Saignée: Saignée means “bled” or “the bleeding of the juice”. It happens when the winemaker is making red wine and runs off part of the macerated juice early. The rest of the juice will continue to macerate on the skins longer to produce a darker, more powerful and concentrated red wine. The difference between saignée and maceration is that for the former, the grapes are intended for red wine, whereas in maceration the grapes are intended solely for rosé wine. Maceration is much more common than saignée. Although wines made from the saignée method are less common, I find some of my favorite roses are made this way, like Anne Amie’s “Cuvee Midnight” which is a saignee rose of Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley, Oregon.
Blending: This is the least common of the three methods. Blending is just as it seems, the combination of finished red and white wine. I find it produces the least complex and balanced rosés out there, and the producer rarely identifies this process to the consumer. Blending white and red wine happens more often during the production of sparkling rose wines and can produce some truly beautiful juice such as Krug Rose!
These different wine making techniques are used all over the world with all different kinds of grapes. These days there are rows and rows of rosé on the shelves – which can be pretty daunting and may cause you to run for your go-to bottle of bourbon. Ok, that could just be me…so then, how do you choose? For me, knowing the grape and the region it came from can offer a pretty good road map. However, as I mentioned above, this is a process dictated by the winemaker, so there is variation amongst wineries – that’s what makes drinking wine so much fun – every bottle is different! Below are some of the most notable regions producing rosé and the grapes that typically are used in their wines:
Provence: This is a warm region producing a fairly lean style of rosé. The typical blend of Provençial rosé is Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre. There is usually just enough skin contact to bring out a light pink hue, offering the aroma of strawberries, watermelon and fresh rose. One of my favorite Provencial rose wines is “Tentations” from Clos Cibonne.
Anjou-Saumur-Touraine, Central Loire Valley: A cooler climate than Provence, these regions make stunning rosés. The grapes Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Grolleau rule for reds and rosés. Cabernet Franc is the most savory of the three with a touch more tannin as well. Gamay and Grolleau are both on the fruitier side with fresh berry notes. Grolleau is the lightest of the three and can have a slightly funkier aroma. I have to admit, the Loire Valley is always my go-to for wine, especially rosé. It is both very good and well priced, and as of recently, my favorite has been the La Boutanche Rose from Le Sot de L’Ange in the Central Loire Valley. It’s what the French would call glouglou, or for an easier reference, a patio pounder.
Côtes-du-Rhone: Another warm climate, but with much more power than the rosé from Provence. The dominant grapes here are Grenache and Cinsault, but several more can be blended in. This is typically left on the skins longer giving it a deep ruby color and much more tannin. The most prominent rosé region here is Tavel, which is only permitted to produce rosé wines. I am usually buying rosés from this region when we’re grilling meats or hearty veggies since it has a little more structure and spice. E. Guigal, who is a classic producer in the region, makes a legit version from Tavel.
Northern California: These tend to be all over the spectrum ranging from powerful Cabernet Sauvignon rosés to light, quaffing wines made with Cinsault, although, Pinot Noir is usually the grape of choice for rosés here. The warmer weather gives it a little more richness than it’s Oregon counterpart. Whenever I’m reaching for a bottle of rosé from California, it’s usually the Pinot Noir Rose from Scribe Winery in Sonoma.
Below are some of my favorite local wine shops to buy a bottle of Rosé – and yes, it’s ok to ask the clerk for help!
Red and White Wines: 1861 North Milwaukee Avenue Chicago, IL, 60647
Perman Wines: 802 W Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607
Pastoral: 2945 N. Broadway, Chicago, IL 60657
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