SALUTÈ: In the pink

Real men do indeed drink pink wine… especially if it’s dry rosé. This wine is being rediscovered because its versatility complements active lifestyles and a variety of foods.


STORY: Mary Ann DeSantis / PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: Anthony Casto

If you are looking for a refreshing summer wine, think pink… as in rosé, rosato, or rosado. Dry rosés, in particular, pair perfectly with light cheeses, hors d’oeuvres, and almost every summer menu. It’s also pretty good when it stands alone.

Certified sommelier Tyler Worth, who writes the blog What’s Worth Drinking, compares rosé wines to a lifeguard. “There should always be one poolside. Nothing really competes with the fresh, mineral flavors of a chilled dry rosé on a hot summer day,” he says.

When shopping for rosé, it’s often difficult to know whether it will be dry or sweet. Rieslings usually have the International Riesling Foundation taste profile scale on the back label indicating the dryness or sweetness, but rosés do not.

“Knowing the region where rosé is produced can help,” says Heather Hitson, wine consultant for ABC Fine Wine & Spirits in Lady Lake and a big fan of rosé wine. “French rosé is usually a drier style, except for the ones from the Languedoc region, which tend to be sweeter. Oregon’s Pinot Noir rosés are usually very dry. California’s are not as dry as Oregon’s.”

Rosato from Italy and rosado from Spain also have unique tasting profiles. The Italian version is typically darker in color and very dry, almost austere, but the intense flavors can pair well with a variety of meat dishes. Committed red wine drinkers may want to try Spanish rosado, which can be tannic and almost as dark as maraschino cherry juice. Recommended pairings include grilled burgers.

Also, knowing the grape varietals is handy when it comes to selecting a rosé. Syrah and pinot noir grapes — often used in rosés — will be drier than muscadine grapes, which are used in many Florida blush wines. Gamay grapes are also used.

The best way to determine what kind of rosé you like is to try several with a meal. Chances are everyone will have a different favorite. Here are a few suggestions for your next rosé tasting. All can be purchased locally for $20 or less.

Bernard Magrez Passion Légère 2011,

Cotes de Provence

Rosés from the France’s Provence region are the pinnacle for many rosé fans because the dry, acidic taste is the perfect balance for almost any cuisine. Rosés outsell white wines in France, most likely because they pair especially well with the Mediterranean flavors of olive oil, seafood, and fresh vegetables. The Passion Légère has a beautiful aroma and a long finish. Made with 40 percent grenache, 20 percent syrah, and 40 percent cinsault, the wine paired well with a light goat cheese and apples. “It will give you great emotions,” read the back label, and I have to agree. About $13.

Maysara Roséena 2011

Montazi Vineyard, Oregon

Roséena is an ancient Persian term for a beautiful, elegant woman who naturally smells of roses. In this tasting, cranberries seemed to dominate the aroma and taste more than flowers but it was still delicious. Made exclusively from pinot noir grapes, this certified biodynamic wine was much different from the French rosé. Most noticeable was the darker color, but it also seemed to have a fuller mouthful of flavor. The Maysara Roséena paired well with grilled salmon, better than any of the others tasted.  About $17.

Buoncristiani Rosato 2012

Napa Valley, California

The Italian name should have been the clue that this rosato needed to be treated like an Italian wine and allowed to breathe. The aroma was off-putting at first, but the flavors developed by the time the main course was served. A handcrafted wine, only 285 cases were made using syrah and malbec grapes. Described as a serious pink wine by its producers, the rosato almost overwhelmed the lighter fish and cheeses. It would work better with barbecue dishes, especially pork. About $20.

Sunblush Premium Rosé

Lakeridge Winery and Vineyard, Clermont

For some folks, only sweet wines will do. Although sweet rosés can be harder to match with food, the Lakeridge Sunblush paired well with spicy salsa and chips. It would also work well with spicy or blackened seafood. It’s a very light wine compared to some of the others in this tasting, but it is still crisp and refreshing. Made from a blend of Muscadine grapes, the fruit flavors certainly dominate. About $8.


• Serve chilled.
• When tasting several rosés, drink the sweetest one last.
• Choose a young vintage. Rosés do not have the tannic structure or complexity to be cellared.
• Pair dry rosé with tangy goat cheese, creamy brie, or fresh melons for a refreshing summer snack.

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