As I stepped out of the airport at Reagan National Airport a couple weeks ago, I was hit with a blast of wet, sticky air. Oh, yes, that would be the humidity I have not missed over the past 6 years. Combine it with temperatures in the 90s and you’re talking serious weather shock. As I always try to look on the bright side of things (which one must do with a toddler, a baby and a pending move on their mind), I see this heat as a way to enjoy my favorite summer wine, rosé, even to a greater degree. The hotter it is, the colder it feels, the pinker it looks and the more refreshing it tastes.
Rosé has been on the upswing for some years now, with more Americans realizing that all pink wine is not the semi-sweet “blush” wine made so popular by Sutter Home in the 70’s and 80’s. There are all sorts of rosé styles out there, from sweet to off-dry to bone dry; dark crimson colored to pale salmon hued; full-bodied and lush to lightly crisp. Rose wines are definitely not one-size-fits-all. But how do you tell which is the right one? Each country seems to make a range of styles, so I often focus on color and grape.
Color: I generalize here, but similar to reds and white wines, the deeper the color of wine, the more full-bodied the wine will be. A darker rosé often means a grape with a darker skin was used and/or the wine spent more time on the grape skins. In either scenario, you’ll get a fuller-bodied wine and mouthfeel. Light, salmon-colored rosé is often made with Pinot Noir or is a wine that has very little time on the skins, so will be lighter bodied with more delicate flavors, but not lacking in flavor!
Grape: If a wine bottle gives you the grape (or grape varieties) used, it’s obviously more helpful in taking a gander at the style of wine. Mulderbosch Rosé, for example, is a Cabernet Sauvignon-based rosé – not your typical rosé variety. It’s fuller-bodied and has excellent structure, just like a Cab! But if you are sipping Robert Sinskey Vin Gris, a pale, salmon colored rosé based on Pinot Noir, you’ll have much lighter-body and more delicate flavors – both are excellent, but different.
In my case, while I swelter here in the heat and humidity of Virginia for another week, I’ll take it if it’s pink and cold.