Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Time to Relax: Some Thoughts on Rosé

Put on your rose-colored glasses, because as the weather grows warmer, my refrigerator gets pinker. An easy-drinking, fun-loving wine, rosé begs to be simply enjoyed. That said, rosé is no doubt misunderstood, undervalued even, and I think it deserves better. Take the word “rosé” for instance—a bit more complex than we realize. In French, it is quite common to turn any noun or adjective into a past-tense verb, should the situation call for it. The word “rose” without the accent simply means “pink”. But add that tiny, but powerful little dash above the ‘e’ and the word denotes something slightly different. The wine is not just pink in color…it has been pinked! The term sounds slightly less elegant in English—and sort of makes it seem like we bonked the wine over the head with a splash of color. But in a sense, we did. Making rosé involves a unique process in which the juice is held in contact with the skins and seeds for only a short period of time.

If wines are people, rosé is the free-wheeling, rebellious teenage cousin of the lot (hehe). To start out, it behaves the traditional, expected way—but just as it begins to develop into a grown-up Syrah or Pinot Noir or Grenache, it is racked off, and its journey to serious red-dom stops short, remaining forever in adolescence. Skip the lengthy maceration, malolactic fermentation, and the barrel or bottle aging. This sucker wants to be in a glass, partying by the pool, now! And you have to admire its haste. Winemaking is always a process, but rosé represents the instant gratification we all crave this time of year. Produced relatively quickly, and drunk young, it is the ultimate ephemeral pleasure.
So if you’re wary of its unfashionable reputation, don’t be. Perform a little experiment by setting up a tasting with your friends and let the results unfold. No need for paper bags or pages of notes—just see which one is a hit. As they say, “The best bottle is the first one emptied!”

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