A French Rosé for summer: how to choose my wine bottle?

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The love for Rosé is not just seasonal. This amazing choice literally reunites the best of both worlds: the crisp freshness of a white varietal and a hint of boldness from its counterparts in the red varietal.

What is a Rosé?

Rosé is a French wine that is growing in popularity all over the world, partly because it can be enjoyed no matter the weather or season. It is never “too full-bodied” or “too crisp” but, instead, a perfect combination of the two.

Rosé is made of red grapes. The difference is that vinters expose the skin of the red grape for a specific amount of time (sometimes days, sometimes hours) throughout the process of making the wine. This is how the liquid acquires its succinct blush color. Therefore, you will find that Rosé is as legit as any other option out there.

What makes a Rosé a Rosé?

Rosé has the perfect natural coloring that makes it so esthetically appealing when served by itself in a beautiful flute.

The color pink from the rosé comes from exposure to the skin of a traditional red grape. Therefore, what vinters do is let the liquid touch a fragment of the skin of the grape as it is produced. As it acquires its pink tones, it is then removed from exposure and the process continues. So, a regular red grape is what makes a Rosé a “Rosé.” Well, the skin of a red grape, that is.

What makes Rosé so popular?

The flavors of Rosé are enjoyable year-round. A bold, full-bodied red like, for example, a delicious Cabernet Sauvignon, is like a good cup of coffee; you need to take your time to fully enjoy it.

The same thing happens with your strong-bodied whites, such as Sauvignon Blanc: it is strong enough to cleanse your palate, but the fruity flavor is more evocative of citrus and grapefruit more than any other note.

Flavor

With French Rosé, you get a much subtle combination of flavors with nice variety of fruity notes that include, in some occasions, all the red berries together: cherry, raspberry and strawberry. In some instances, it is aged to bring out additional notes of watermelon, citrus, and even subtle flavors of apricot. You just can’t go wrong with Rosé.

Sweet or Dry

Do not let the pink hue of a Rosé lead you to think of it as a “pink drink” that is sweet and flirty. Rosé is no different than white or red.  Rosé runs the whole spectrum from dry to fruity. Therefore, expect to find very dry, bold-flavored Rosés as well as lighter, fruitier ones with a fresh, sweet finish.

Rosé versus White Zinfandel

We know that, both,rosé and White Zinfandel (also known for its short, “ Zin”) feature a blush, pink color. However, there are huge differences between these two varietals. First, Rosé is made with red grapes, while Zin is made with Zinfandel grapes, which are black skinned grapes mainly native to California.

Another huge difference between French Rosé and Zin is the flavor. White Zinfandel will be sweeter, lighter, and fruitier than rosé. Granted, Rosé can also get to the fruity and sweet gamut, but with a more bold and strong finish than Zin. You could think of Rosé’s flavor “as Zin on steroids”, but that would be a misnomer since they are made with completely different grapes, their grapes are grown in different backgrounds and the creativity processes are also disassociated.

How to choose your Rosé bottle?

Now that you know what Rosé is, and what it is not, let’s proceed to look for salient traits that can help you pick the perfect bottle.

Here is some advice:

1. Go for French Rosé- Not to put down Spain or Italy, but the French were the original creators of Rosé, and they happen to have the perfect region to produce wines and the perfect grapes for Rosé: the Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence.

You can find this French wine region displayed on the labels of all Rosé bottles that are sourced in that area. Take it as a warranty that it will be good. You will find these options to be fruity enough to get slightly sweet, but bold enough to give you the right amount of acidity to make it crisp and delicious to the palate.

To make it even more esthetically appealing, the Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence bottles are typically quite attractive, putting the perfectly pink hue of the liquid in a very French-like display. So, bottomline: French Rosé it is.

Now, suppose that the bottle you get does not say “verbatim” the words: "Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence". Do not dismay, there are other names given to the same region. The French name given to them are “appellations” or “derivatives of”, and this is what you may see in the labels of those bottles:

-Côtes de Provence
-Coteaux Varois
-Bandol
-Cassis

2. New York is also a wonderful wine country, but we aren’t talking New York City. The upper New York State area offers some rich and fertile terrain to grow grapes. New York has rich soil and perfect weather in the upstate area. It is perfect for Pinot Noirs, Pinot Gris, Cabernets and yes, the awesome Rosé varieties. One of the most salient brands is called Hampton Water, of which Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse are part owners. Another hot name is the Channing Daughters winery in Bridgehampton, NY, who makes several varieties of Rosé.

3. Italian options- Italy, of course, joins the competition for best Rosé producers, with the house of Santa Margherita. This winery has already produced some of the most beloved Pinot Grigios sold in the United States, and they are right on the top three best rosés with their pink bubbly of the same name.

4. Oregon- Like New York and Washington State, Oregon has the rich soil, temperate weather and high altitudes needed to create amazing vineyards. The famous A to Z Wineworks makes a splendid, deep, rich Rosé of the same name, proudly displaying its "Oregon Rosé" message right on the label. It is considered one of the most sought-after Rosés and it competes with European choices for taste, body, and notes of herbs, peaches, and watermelon.

5. Washington State- North by Northwest enters the competition as a top of the line Rosé made in the USA in the evergreen state, where nature displays some of its most beautiful views. Like Oregon, the consistent rainfall, perfectly-timed four seasons, and the rich soil make Washington State's vineyards comparable to those from France and Italy.

Which will you pick?
Do you have a favorite Rosé?
Sound off in the comments section and share your favorites!

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