This past month we welcomed some guests into our shop for a class on rosé wines. Presenting a rosé tasting is beginning to be a springtime tradition for us at The Twisted Vine, which doesn’t seem to displease any of us who get to interact with attendees and sample the wines for ourselves.
I never really fall out of love with rosés, but each spring (the season during which most rosé producers unveil their newest releases) I am reminded of all the many reasons why it is one of my favorite wine “genres.” Our most recent class was no exception to the rule, as we tasted our ways through a flight of five delicious yet markedly different rosé wines.
Flavor concentration was one of the most distinguishing characteristics of the wines we tasted. While some of the rosés could be described as “delicate” or “easy-drinking,” other bottles maintained flavors that were far more concentrated, indicating more developed grape ripeness or prolonged maceration during the vinification process. Juice to skin contact for rosé production is never really as lengthy a process as it is for traditional red wines, but some rosé producers will leave the skins in contact with the juice for longer periods, in order to make the fruit flavors more concentrated and to add a degree of “weight” based on increased tannin and anthocyanin levels. As the person leading the tasting, I was both intrigued and thrilled to note how many different guests preferred so many different wines. One wine caused one person to grin from ear to ear, whereas that same wine just as easily caused another to grimace. As I mentioned, finding out that someone doesn’t care for something you like just means there will be more bottles available for you to buy.
Some of the most frequently asked questions during the tasting had to do with food pairings for rosé wines. “What’s the best pairing?” is the sort of question a number of guests asked while we were walking around and gauging reactions to the different wines. Unlike some sommeliers or other personalities in the wine world, I rarely feel comfortable pinpointing any single dish that is THE archetypal pair for any wine. I concede that there are some wines that seem to clash with certain foods (e.g. a deep, tannic red with sushi), but I try to avoid dogmatic presumptions on food and wine pairing options whenever possible. When it comes to rosé, the fresh red and stone fruit flavors and marked acid levels seem like they would complement a whole host of springtime meals. More importantly to me, however, is the idea that rosé seems to be the sort of drink you can sip on routinely, even in the absence of food. While I agree with a writer like Eric Asimov when he claims that wine is ideally consumed alongside food, I am perfectly content drinking most rosés without any intended or accidental food pairing options. The stuff just tastes good all the time.
Just like our class last year, this class reassured me of my desire to stockpile my personal cellar with bottles of rosé. While many of these bottles will be hued differently and come from regions all over the world, I can almost guarantee that each bottle will refresh me and remind me that it is spring. Oh, what a wonderful season!