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Rosés
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Learning Center - Wine Education

By Cory Sebastian of Sebastian’s Fine Food & Spirits in Caledonia


I go through wine phases. My interest began with France—Bordeaux specifically—and moved south, when I fell in love with GSM (Grenach, Syrah and Mourvèdre) blends. Then came the California cabernets, followed by Oregon pinot noirs and, most recently, merlot … whatever Sideways. Although I’ve had my trysts with other varietals, I have always held a deep love of rosés.

I discovered rosés during my Rhone Valley, California phase, starting with the beautifully-balanced GSM blends. I was under the impression, as are many, that rosés are just "fancy" white zinfandels—not the case. Rosés can be made with virtually any red grape from almost anywhere, making it a versatile and fun wine. Regardless of your taste preferences or pairings, I believe there is a rosé that would satisfy any palate.

If you look at a shelf of rosés, one of the first things you’ll notice is the variation in hue from varietal to varietal. Colors range from pale pink to deep burgundy and depend on the varietal and the amount of time the skin of the grape steeped with the juice. The longer the skin is in contact with the juice, the darker the wine will be. When making red wine, the skins remain through fermentation; when making rosés, however, the skins are removed following a limited steep time with the juice, anywhere from an hour to a few days.

Rosés can also be blended from other wines. Wines can be fermented separately and blended together later or the juices can be combined and fermented together. During saignee, free-run juice is bled from vats of red wine during the initial skin contact stage and then combined with white grape juice before fermentation. French sparkling rosés can only be blended in the Champagne region. White zinfandel, among others, is a blended rosé.

Rosés are the perfect summer wine. I love nothing more than a little rosé with a little barbecue. When dining in restaurants during these warm months, it’s practically a given that I’ll start my meals with a rosé, when available. I love rosés, I love tasting different varietals, I love pounding them on a patio, I love them with scallops, I love the price, I love the color, I love the fruit, I love the dryness … I just love them. So, take your newly-acquired knowledge and go find your new favorite rosé (or rosés!) this summer!

See below for links to the rosés we featured in the 
June/July 2012 issue of Alcoholmanac Magazine.