Great Grapes: Think Pink!

In her latest column on wines, Debbie Barker of the Bowdoin Class of 1980, describes the appeal of rosé as a  choice for summer.

One of the fun new trends in summer is drinking rosé wines. This season is about trying new regions, new grapes, and new light flavors. Today’s rosés are refreshing but have depth, and, yes, I’ll admit it, the color alone can bring a smile to your face! They are sophisticated and unexpected-think the crispness of sauvignon blanc with a hint of the body of a red wine. The best rosés come from warmer climates, like Provence in France and northern California.

In the 1970s the “go-to” rosé wines were Mateus and Lancers-remember the unusually shaped bottles? They tasted sweet and thin, and you could buy them for about the price of bread in the supermarket. Don’t forget the trend for “blush” zinfandels in the 90s”¦quite thin and bodiless. Okay, so forget those trends! Today’s rosés are refined enough to work well as an aperitif, and to continue on through a meal of fresh summer fare. A couple of my favorites are Elisabeth Spencer Syrah Rosé from Sonoma and Domaine du Dragon Côtes de Provence.

The grape used to make rosés is red-the varietals can be as light as the grenache grape, or as heavy as the syrah. To attain the lovely pink color, the crush is done after harvest, and the dark grape skins are left in the crush for half a day before the white wine making process begins. Alternatively, a small amount of red wine can be added to the white wine during the winemaking process, but this process generates wines which lack the depth of flavor of the first process. And the best news? The prices are right! You can experiment with rosés and find that you don’t need to spend more than $20 a bottle”¦Santé!

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