When you're stumped, when you can't figure out what wine to serve with a picnic, barbecue or casual summer supper, try rosé. It's as close as there is to an all-purpose wine.
In France they drink it with ratatouille, roast chicken and cassoulet.
In Italy they drink it with chicken, veal, seafood and pasta. In Spain they drink it with squid salad, manchego cheese, spicy shrimp, grilled chorizo and Serrano ham.
In America we drink it with tuna salad, takeout pork from Pollo Tropical and good old-fashioned barbecue, from pulled pork to deeply smoked ribs.
It's delicate enough to drink by itself, crisp and tart when well-chilled to beat the summer heat. It's crisp enough to cut through fatty dishes and rich and fruity enough to handle spicy food. And it's cheap.
Well, a lot of it is.
Rosé can be made with any red grape. The wines in the list below are made of cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, gamay, grenache, cinsault, syrah, tempranillo, pinot meunier, corvina, rondinella and molinara. Even the white Italian grape called cortese.
It can be made in two ways … both based on the fact that even the juice of red grapes is white. A deep, dark cabernet sauvignon gets its inky hue from long contact of the juice with the red skins after crushing. Pour the juice off earlier … sometimes within hours of crushing … and you have rosé. The other way is to add just a bit of red wine to wine from a white grape like the Italian cortese or the French chardonnay just before bottling.
The epitome of rosé wines is rosé champagne … tinted from pale salmon to deep cherry red, with pinprick bubbles rising through them and the flavor and scent of fresh flowers.
We drink that with everything.
· 2009 Jaboulet “Parallele 45” Rosé , Cotes du Rhone, France (grenache, cinsault, syrah): spicy black cherry and mineral aromas and flavors, crisp and tart; $12.
· Nonvintage Pommery Rosé Champagne, Reims, France (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier): tiny, long-lasting bubbles, pale strawberry hue, aromas of roses, flavors of yeast and ripe peaches; $60.
· 2009 Pascal Jolivet “Attitude” Rosé Pinot Noir, Loire Valley, France (pinot noir, gamay, cabernet sauvignon): light and lively, crisp and fruity, with tart cherry flavors, tart finish; $16.
· 2009 La Scolca “Rosa Chiara'' Rosato, Piedmont, Italy (cortese, pinot noir): aromas of camellias, flavors of tart cherries and minerals, soft, rich and dry; $16.
· 2009 El Coto de Rioja Rosado, Rioja, Spain (tempranillo, garnacha): tart, crisp
strawberry flavors, lean, with a hint of tannin; $14.
· 2009 Hecht & Bannier Rosé, Vin de Pays d'Oc, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (syrah, cinsault, grenache): ripe, red raspberry flavors, crisp, intense fruit, tart finish; $13.
· 2009 Santi “Infinito” Rosé, Bardolino, Veneto, Italy (corvina, rondinella, molinara): rich, tart strawberries, full-bodied, tart finish; $11.