Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Martini Club Welcomes the Culinary Pirate: Everything's Coming Up Rosé


What better way to celebrate Mother's Day than with a nice glass of Rosé? I am tickled pink (pun intended) to have Katie Machol, The Culinary Pirate, here today to chat about Rosé wines. I met Katie on-line via twitter while ranting and raving about Top Chef. She is a freelance food writer, cooking instructor, and enthusiastic blogger. 

Take it away, Katie!

Everything's Coming up Rosé

     by Katie Machol - CulinaryPirate (@culinarypirate)

As spring is on its way out and the warm summer is about to make its debut, the popularity of Rosé wine rises. Honestly, I can drink the stuff all year and, lucky for me, it's continuing to gain a bigger share of the wine market. Here's an ode to my favorite drink, complete with a few brand suggestions and food pairings.

First, a little back story on Rosé:

Rosé is light, served chilled and goes down very easily and, like white wine, is a bit on the dry side. Reversely, it has a bit more body than a white and typically sports nuances of lush berries on the palate, more like a red. This makes sense, of course, as Rosés are made from red wine grapes: Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Malbec -- the list goes on. Winemakers will leave the skins of the newly crushed grapes in the batch for up to 24 hours to impart a pink to reddish hue before the wine is fermented (a.k.a.: "maceration"). Rosés can be made from a single type of red grape or be a blend of many different types of grapes.

As I mentioned above, Rosés range in color -- from a very light salmon to garnet -- and this coloration also determines the body and flavor of the wine. And I'm a fan of them all. The light-bodied ones are fantastic on their own or can be paired with lighter flavored foods, like fish, salads and some cheeses (nothing too overpowering). Darker, more full-bodied Rosés can hold their own to salmon, meat dishes and some aged cheeses. I'd suggest any of them be paired with spicy Indian and Asian fare, as well as sushi.

Please, don't ever get Rosé and White Zinfandel (or "California Blush") confused -- they should never even be put in the same category. White Zin is sweet, made from only Zinfandel grapes and many of the brands out there tend to be low-quality, which doesn't help its reputation (read: not classy). But no shade to you White Zin drinkers out there, okay?

Alright, enough of the boring facts -- let's get to the goods. Here are some of the stellar Rosés I've had so far this year that I highly recommend:

2011 Bieler Pere et Fils “Sabine” Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix-En-Provence, France $10-12 
This salmon-colored sip from Provence is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. The nose is floral with hints of strawberry and watermelon and, on the palate, red berries and a touch of citrus lead to a crisp finish. It pairs well with fish and chicken (and steamy romance novels). [Note from Penelope: Excellent!]

2011 Charles & Charles Rosé, Columbia Valley, WA $9-11 
I love me some Washington wines and this one -- made with Syrah grapes -- definitely delivers. I'm also a fan of their marketing campaign, the slogan being, "Yes, you can drink Rosé and still be a bad ass." (It's true.) [Note from Penelope: Best slogan ever!] This one smells of watermelon and wet stones (Whaaat? I read that somewhere, not sure if I get that though), tastes like strawberries, raspberries and general bad-assery. It is crisp, vibrant and is great on its own or with grub from the grill.

2011 Francis Ford Coppola Winery Sofia Rosé, Monterey County, California $14-17 
I'll be honest. I was taken in by the sleek and sexy curves of the bottle when I first purchased Sofia, but soon learned that she wasn't just a pretty face with no substance. Named after director Francis Ford Coppola's daughter Sofia (also a writer/director), this gal is a smooth, delicate sip with a perfume of citrus, lavender and pomegranate and tastes of juicy red berries with just a hint of anise. Take Sofia along on a summer picnic and enjoy her with seasonal summer fare and spicy foods.

2011 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Stellenbosch, South Africa $12-15 
A deep, "sexy pink colour," as their website states, with notes of roses, raspberries and strawberries on the nose, and red berries, pomegranate and black pepper on the palate. Serve with sushi, Japanese fare and seafood. I also find that it goes well when enjoyed with chocolate.

While delicious on its own, Rosé is also delightful when mixed into a cocktail. Here are some creative drinks on the web that utilize Rosé:

The Absolut Ruby Riviera (Absolut Vodka): Grapefruit vodka, Rosé, orange soda
The Black Rose punch ( Blackberries, Rosé, vodka, lime juice, simple syrup
Rosé Berry Bliss punch ( Cocktails): Rosé, blueberries, pink lemonade, lemon-lime soda
Rosé Crush (Cosmopolitan
UK): Crushed ice, Rosé, orange and raspberry juices, mint

So whether you're enjoying a glass while entertaining friends for a summer fête or downing a whole bottle yourself while watching a RuPaul's Drag Race marathon (don't judge), Rosé is the perfect wine pick for spring, summer and just about any occasion.

Katie, you have won me over! I am all set to try one of these recommendations. I think I'll start with the Charles & Charles Rosé since I need to maintain my bad-ass status. 

I hope everyone is enjoying some wonderful beverages on this holiest of holidays...Mother's Day. 

Blushing rosé and sloshing about,