In April of this year, I visited Layton’s Chance Winery in Vienna, Maryland to do an afternoon of wine tasting. I tasted a lot of wines that day, but one that stood out was called Dirty Rosé. To be honest, I had no interest in tasting it. I mean, it’s a rosé. The tasting room manager really wanted me to try it because I LOVE wines made from Norton grapes and Dirty Rosé is a Norton rosé. For some reason, I didn’t ask why it was called “dirty,” but after I tasted it, I didn’t even care. It was so delicious and refreshing, I ended my tasting right there and ordered a glass. The wine tasted great with every item on my charcuterie board and that was the start of my love affair with rosé wine.
The production and consumption of rosé wine goes waaaay back to Phoenicians (1550 BC-300 BC) and the ancient Greeks (600 BC). If that doesn’t give new meaning to Old World wines, I don’t know what does! Rosé wines in the ancient world were a necessity. There was an abundance of stagnant, bacteria-infested water that people inherently knew they probably shouldn’t drink, but the alternative was seawater. The ancients solved their problem by diluting their still wines with one or both types of water. Since wines back then were generally made from a pile of red and white grapes thrown together and stomped, the diluted wine was a nice pale red-pinkish color. It was pretty (though no one cared) and practical because the alcohol in the water-diluted wine made the water less likely to kill you than drinking the water straight. Equally important was that the ancients firmly held to the belief that drinking undiluted wine made a person crazy. Perhaps they mistook drunkenness for insanity, but whatever the reason, civilized persons did not drink undiluted wine.
I won’t bore you with all of the historical iterations of rosé wine, but it has taken over 3500 years for the world to get to #DrinkPink. Rosé wine in the United States was first popularized by Sutter Home in the mid-1970’s when they bottled their White Zinfandel. In the world of storytelling, the Sutter Home White Zinfandel was a combination of American ingenuity and a fluke. Winemaker Bob Trinchero took the light pink run-off juice from his Zinfandel and intended to ferment it separately. For whatever reason, the fermentation became stuck. That means that the fermentation stopped prematurely leaving a low-alcohol, high residual sugar wine. Most winemakers would have probably thrown in the towel, but Trinchero went ahead and bottled it as it was. Sutter Home White Zinfandel was an overnight success.
Sutter Home’s commercial success did not go unnoticed and since then winemakers across the United States have been experimenting with and successfully bottling delicious, refreshing, pink drinks we call ROSÉ.
A true rosé wine is made when red grapes are crushed, and the juice is left to ferment with the skins until the winemaker has determined it to be the perfect color. This short maceration can take from a few hours to a couple of days, depending on the grape variety. Once the color is perfect, the juice is drained and continues fermenting. Once the wine has stabilized it is bottled and sold. Most rosé wines are matured for only a short time-if at all. Once bottled, a rosé—unlike other wines—will not age well. It begins to lose its color and freshness, so it should be stored in a dark, cool place and consumed within two years of bottling.
It should probably be noted that not all pink wines are true rosés. For example, a Pink Moscato is a white wine that has had a touch of red wine or juice added to give it the pink color. Some winemakers would argue with me on this point, because blending is not an uncommon practice in the wine industry. My answer to blending is that a true rosé gets its color from the maceration process. (I can sometimes be a snob!) Additionally, fruit wines, like Cranberry wine, may be a lovely rose color, but they are not considered to be rosé wines.
Rosé wines can be any range of colors from pink to orange. They are most often dry, but there are some very good off dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, and sweet rosé wines widely available. No matter what your palate, you can find a refreshing rosé wine to fit any occasion. After drinking many rosé wines in the past few months, I have decided that when you don’t know what to serve with a meal, go with a rosé. Even Julia Child said, “Anything can be served with Rosé.”
Here in the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico, the rosé wines are as beautiful as a New Mexico sunset, not quite as dry as the New Mexico desert, but as refreshing as one of our rare summer rainstorms. Every wine lover should have a go-to rosé available, so to help you Stop And Smell the Rosés, I’ve listed some of my favorites here and have linked to as many as were available.
2019 Cinsault Rosé: This is an outstanding, award-winning dry rosé made from Cinsault grapes.
2019 Coriel Rosé: Also made from Cinsault grapes and also an award winner, this rosé is a sweet wine.
Pasando Tiempo Winery and Vineyards
Pasando Tiempo Rosé: I purchased a bottle of this wonderfully refreshing rosé on a recent visit. I couldn’t locate it in their online store, but it’s worth giving them a call to check on availability. Better yet, drop in to the tasting room and try it for yourself.
Petit Verdot Rosé: I recently served this rosé at a family get-together. I can’t even begin to describe the euphoria we all experienced from this wonderfully dry, crisp Rosé. It has all the notes of the summer fruits we love—strawberry, raspberry, and pomegranate.
Sweet Rosie Rosé: Full disclosure, I didn’t taste this one. I am listing it, however, because I don’t drink a lot of sweet wines, but I trust every wine I get from Jaramillo and I am sure you can’t go wrong with this sweet rosé
White Tempranillo: Another one of my favorite wines is Tempranillo so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered a rosé made with Tempranillo grapes. Even though this light, sweet rosé deviates from my love of dry wines, it pairs perfectly with the 104o summer days we experience in southern New Mexico. It is super refreshing!
Painted Lady Rosé: This light, bright, fruity rosé is one of my favorites!—Probably because it is also made from Tempranillo grapes. I thought Painted Lady was only available in the tasting room, but it’s in their on-line store, so check it out!
Cruces Sunrise: This award-winning, semi-sweet rosé is a best-seller for Amaro Winery. It pairs with so many foods and is perfect for adding sparkling water to make a spritzer or providing the base for holiday wine cocktails.
Heritage Rosé: Produced in the French style of rosé, this lovely wine is made from Syrah grapes that have been harvested early for their crisp acidity. The wine is made to carefully preserve the fresh strawberry and tart raspberry fruit characteristics.
Born In Space: This is the bottle with the story, but I won’t give it away. This semi-sweet, natural rosé is as unique a rosé as any I have tasted. You have to go to the winery to get it, but it’s well worth the trip!
Desert Nights Rosé: Recently under new management, RGW has been bottling some decent wines of late. This wonderfully fruity, dry rosé is soft and refreshing.
Rosé: The simple and humble name, Rosé, doesn’t begin to describe the refreshing, semi-sweet goodness of this fruity wine.
New Mexico has a huge selection of amazing Rosé wines and I’ve barely touched the surface. If you’ve ever wondered about a Rosé wine or currently harbor some misconceptions about this increasingly popular style of wine, choose one from my list or go find one on your own. When you do, please comment or send me an email and tell me what you chose and how you like it. One of these days I will write a blog on READER FAVORITES!
Obviously, I write about New Mexico wines because I want you to try them. Nonetheless, I love hearing about wines and wineries across the country and around the world. I’d love to hear from you about any tasting experiences you’ve had, or wines you have enjoyed.
Before Summer comes to an end, please…
STOP AND SMELL THE ROSÉS
Did you know? You can follow me on Instagram @wine_of_enchantment
Read more about the evolution of Rosé wine here!
Until next time….