Poolside parties, bonfires on the beach, backyard barbecues. What's a red wine lover to choose for these summertime soirees? Rosé. It is the best-kept secret among us red wine lovers for it has all the flavor, tannin, aromatics, and intensity of a great red wine, while being crisp and refreshing on a hot summer day.
Rosés have a lovely pink/salmon color and can be produced from any red grape, even Cabernet Sauvignon. Red wines get their scarlet hue from the skins of grapes. The color of the wine is determined by the amount of time the skins stay in contact with the juice of the grapes after they have been crushed. A shorter duration of contact yields a pink "red wine," whereas an extended period of contact results in a true red wine.
"Rosé is the hottest wine on the market this summer," claims French wine importer Gene Schaeffer. "There is a great Rosé for every palate."
In general, pink/Rosé wines are nearly as dry as their red counterparts -- which is a breath of fresh air for red wine drinkers who feel it is simply too hot outside to open that monster Cabernet or Rioja.
The name of the Rosé that's on everyone's lips, and has earned a "cult-like" following by movie stars and the music industry, is Domaines Ott. It retails for approximately $38, and is considered the benchmark for Provence Rosé. In actuality, the majority of Rosé can be found for under $15. There are some incredible values that not only stack up to, but are even better than some of the more expensive Rosé. For example, check out Relais Cavalier Cotes du Provence ($14) -- at less than half the price of its famous neighbor. This Rosé is bone dry and perfect with salads and seafood, particularly shellfish, as well as spicy ribs or pork chops prepared on the grill.
Spain happens to be one of my personal favorite regions to explore a more complex, "N.Y. Strip Steak Worthy" Rosé. These Tempranillo or Grenache-based "Rosato's" are rich, slightly spicy, and have a little more weight and tannin to stack up to grilled meats. On a recent trip to one of Spain's most famous red wine regions, I discovered a hidden gem called Pirineos Mesache ($12). Lastly, try a Cabernet Franc Rosé from the Loire Valley, L'Heritiers Dubois ($9), for a fruity, fun tasting experience at a bargain price.
When the weather heats up, red wine lovers simply cannot go wrong with Rosé.