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A Rose by Any Other Name...

Mon, Aug 29, 22

By Marla Morris – Wine Buyer at Rollers Wine & Spirits | Coligny Plaza


We’ve heard all the catchphrases: “Rosé All Day”, “Slay then Rosé”, “Fifty Shades of Rosé” and the inevitable reference to the millennial “pink” state of mind.  Rosé is enjoyed all over the world by the young, the young at heart, enjoyed by wine experts and beginners. There is a Rosé for everyone whether you’re imbibing in the sunshine poolside,  pairing a glass with low and slow BBQ, or throwing a bottle back playing cards on the patio. 
It’s not just a phase! Rosé is here to stay!

Now, let’s get geeky…

It’s 1980-something and the ladies are sitting around the kitchen table as many of us do now; ending the day with a drink amongst friends. What are they drinking? Why, White Zinfandel of course! What self respecting suburbanite wouldn’t agree that the drink of choice for any discerning lady was White Zinfandel? Pair that puppy with a good cheese ball and some Ritz crackers and you have a night made for the ages. Getting nostalgic? Just me? 

White Zinfandel came about as a fortuitous mistake from a batch of Zinfandel by none other than the Sutter Home Winery  in the 1970’s. What at the time looked like a mistake opened the American market to what the rest of the world already knew; Pink wine is DELICIOUS!

It took a minute for us to catch on. Despite being mired by terrible marketing in the 1980’s that gave white zinfandel the reputation of being a cloyingly sweet, cheap jug wine white zinfandel exploded and consumers haven’t stopped buying. To the American consumer the qualities of those first mass marketed white zinfandels were too hard to resist and to this day it’s one of the few wines that consistently sells out for both Sutter Home and Beringer. While those early marketing campaigns did their job selling the fortuitous mistakes of winemakers, they also besmirched the subtle beauty of other pink wines to which it was compared.

Why bring up white zinfandel at all?  Fast forward to today where you visit your humble local wine shop where a friendly wine expert (shout out to the Rollers Wine Team!) is helping you navigate the literal thousands of available wines. You say, “I like dry white wines not too oaky, or not oaky at all, maybe a little fruity. Then they ask you; “What are you pairing this with? What do you normally drink? Do you want to try something new?”

They walk you through a few of the oldies but goodies; lemon-y Chablis,  flinty Sancerre, crisp Pinot Grigio, grapefruit-y Sauvignon Blanc, maybe a citrus packed Albarino or a zippy Gruner Veltliner when it occurs to them, Rose. “But, I don’t like sweet wines, I don’t think I’ll like that” “Don’t worry, we’ll find you the perfect new favorite. Don’t believe what you’ve heard, there is a Rose for everyone”.

The choices are seemingly endless and can appeal to both white and red wine drinkers. The versatility of Rosé comes from the artistry of the winemaker. Rosé can be made from any number of grapes; Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot for example- if its’ got red skin someone has probably tried to make it into Rosé. The exotic fruit, strawberry and watermelon flavor profile with a not too sweet finish keeps many coming back for more while turning off other wine lovers. Whether it’s the visceral remembrance of the white zinfandel snuck from moms glass or the all too familiar first wine drank in college  white zinfandel and rosé will always be compared and disregarded.  An opinion this wine lover can not share because there are literally thousands of Rosé style wines to try and not all Rosé is created equally, and not one of them is the sweet, fruit punch-y white zinfandel from yester-year.  

The facts speak for themselves. Americans are drinking more wine now than ever and a great portion of it Rosé. Rosé is made all over the world and the process differs from country to country and small wine region to large, often changing based on the grapes involved and the style of the particular region. Offering you a chance to travel without having to leave your seat- come see the world through a glass of wine!

So, what should you drink? What will your favorite wine professional recommend for you to try? That depends only on the limits of your imagination and sense of adventure! 

  • Domaine Ott Rosé: The lush waving fields of lavender around Avignon and sweeping views of the Mediterranean Seas’ blue crashing waves of Marseille are conjured up while sipping on the rose of the Provence region. But you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to France to enjoy this delicate thought provoking wine. It’s no wonder Provence Rosé explodes during the summer months its delicate palate and lively finish are a welcome respite from the heat. Grenache is the top grape varietal used in Provence  where flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and watermelon candy finish with a zesty lemon-like acidity. Domaine OTT in particular boasts flavors of white peach and exotic fruits finishing with yellow fruit and citrus. Grenache Rosé is best paired with the flavors of the region : aromatic spices, Mediterranean flavors and nightshades ( think: tomato, peppers and eggplant).
  • Elk Cove Rosé: Pinot Noir has become the darling of Oregon and where there is red Pinot Noir there is Rose of Pinot Noir. Oregon shares similar weather to the famous Pinot Noir producing region Burgundy, France and without question produces  stunning Pinot Noir as well as absolutely gorgeous Rosé. Elk Cove Pinot Noir Rose boasts scents of watermelon, grapefruit and white flowers finishing with faint notes of kiwi.  What’s not to like? Pinot Noir Rosés tend to be a fuller-bodied rose style so try these wines with traditional French herbs and spices on chicken or with any of your summer grilled fair such as chicken, pork or corn dishes. Try any green herbs  and floral spices to bring out the sweeter more subtle fruit flavors. 
  • Wolffer Estates Summer in a Bottle Rosé: What?? NY State Rosé! I know! It turns out that our northern neighbors have done a bang up job of blending wines that usually stand alone as a single varietal bottle. Here they blend Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and a few others to create a mouthwatering summer Rosé. Straight from Long Island and the Hamptons we now all get to revel in the sand dunes and floppy hats of the other posh island and one of its’ signature beverages- a crisp, refreshing rose that never disappoints, unless the bottle is empty, of course. Bright pink and copper this wine shines with clean fruit notes of pears, apples and peaches-no cloying sweet fruit here! There is a nice acidity ( read: mouthwatering) and classic minerality that fills your mouth and pairs incredibly with summer appetizers like smoked salmon, shrimp and soft spreadable cheeses. Also a great compliment with dinner main courses of fish and pork. (Also, check out the bottle art- eye catching, right?)
  • Riondo Prosecco Rosé:

The favorite bubbly of brunches everywhere now has a delicious pink cousin. As of January 2021 Italian Prosecco producers were allowed a new designation of their star sparkling wine. These new rules allowed for the addition of Pinot Nero ( otherwise known as Pinot Noir) to the mix with Glera standing as the principal varietal in Prosecco. 
Think of this as a before and after Rosé;  before appetizers or after dinner- or if you’re me- anytime I want because bubbles are LIFE! Riondo Prosecco Rose has a light effervescence that dances around your mouth with aromas of raspberry and juicy peach finishing with a golden yellow apple flavor. 
Pour this as you’re preparing a meal, as your guests arrive, or with light appetizers watching the sun go down at the end of day. Pair this with salads, light summer dishes or instead of boring old soda water add a little sparkle to a cocktail.  A personal favorite is to pour this over your favorite sorbet or gelato as if making a fruity adult Root Beer Float- WOW!