Are we tired of rosé yet?
No. Of course not. But, I hope I have your attention now.
I love well-made — most often dry — rosé. I drink it year round with myriad foods, which is one reason my affection for rosé runs so deep. Good rosé combines the complexity and structure of red wine with the refreshing, thirst-quenching qualities of whites. It’s the perfect wine when the seasons (and our local foods) are changing.
It is infinitely versatile at the table (or at the beach or park). Pick up some fresh fish from our local waters? Rosé will complement them well. Serving smoky-sweet barbecue chicken and burgers? It works there, too. You can even serve certain styles of rosé with a steak.
And yet, as much as I love drinking rosé, I’m a bit tired of hearing about them. Dry rosé has been having “a moment” for several years now. Writers far and wide have been penning odes to its “resurgence.” I’ve done it, too. One winemaker in the Finger Lakes even told me that “dry rose is the new riesling” — a horrifying thought.
One winemaker in the Finger Lakes even told me that “dry rose is the new riesling” — a horrifying thought that I could not disagree with more.
Over the past several years, I’ve pulled together as many East Coast rosés — mainly from New York, but also Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia and beyond — as I can get my hands on to taste with a group of wine folks with the goal of writing all-encompassing reports about each year’s new vintage.
After last year’s tasting, I’m done with the rosé report. I won’t be doing one this year.
It’s not that there aren’t always good wines involved. They always are. Admittedly, there aren’t very many clunkers either, though there’s always a wine or two that I’d rather not put into my mouth. The problem is that most of the wines — up to 90 percent — are just OK, perfectly drinkable but not even close to worthy of the time and thought as I was affording them.
Certainly, there is little need for a “report” about them. Who wants to read that? No matter how good you are at writing tasting notes, you can only write “fresh” and “strawberry and watermelon” so many times before you begin to just not care anymore.
I was giving rosé too much attention — putting too much pressure on it as a category. It’s not meant to be dissected and contemplated. Very little of it is, anyway. It’s so trendy and hot right now — but it’s just rosé, people. Drink it. Enjoy it. Repeat.
And yet, I’m not ready for the pink bubble to burst, because I love drinking the good ones. Then again, most of the good ones were available when rosé was just rosé and not an international phenomenon.
2016 rosés are going to hit shelves — and hopefully your glass — soon. Here are three tips to maximum rosé enjoyment, but remember — enjoy them. Don’t ponder them.
Not all rosé is created equal. There isn’t a lot of awful rose being made on the East Coast, but there is very little great rosé too. Mediocrity dominates. In general, the rosé that is made with intention (rather than as a way to improve concentration in red wine production, via the saignée method) is better balanced and more interesting. Seek those out and don’t be a hybrid snob. There is some really tasty rosé being made with grapes like Baco Noir, Marquette and Chambourcin.
Fresher isn’t always better. You don’t need to drink all of your 2015 rosé before you start buying 2016s. I’d never suggest aging most local rosé, but I’ve actually found that six to 12 months of bottle age actually can help more than it hurts. They might be a bit less racy in November (say, for Thanksgiving) than they are in June, but they’ll be plenty bright and I think a bit more delicious.
Don’t drink them ice cold. Much like most white wine, rosé is best enjoyed chilled, but not at the edge of frozen. Rosé is rarely layered and complex anyway, but if served too cold, what flavors and interest that are there will be muted. Depending on the style of rosé, you may even want it near room temperature. Experiment and see what you like best.
A version of this piece first appeared on northforker.com