Wine Talk: Pretty in pink

For a really romantic dinner at home, set the table with a vase of pink roses and a chilled bottle of rosé wine.

Wine glasses 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Wine glasses 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Rosé is the wine most appropriate for Valentine’s Day. What can be more romantic than a dinner table with a vase of pink or red roses on it and a chilled bottle of rosé wine? Arguably the best rosés come from France. Rosé d’Anjou from the Loire Valley, Tavel Rosé from the Rhone Valley and Provence Rosés from the South of France, are examples of some wellknown rosés. They are nearly always dry wines with a light red color, almost as though a bottle of red wine has been slightly watered down. In France rosé wines have status and a popular following. No one looks down on someone who prefers a bottle of rosé rather than a red or white wine.
White Zinfandel from California is another well-known form of rosé. It is known as a “blush” wine because of its delicate, paler color. It is more likely to be pink rather than light red, and will almost certainly be sweeter than the French versions. White Zin, as it is known, is extremely popular as an entry level wine.
Closer to home in the eastern and southern Mediterranean, rosé wines also have a strong following. It is a popular style in Morocco, where it is known as “vin gris” or “gris de gris.” Lebanon also has particularly good rosés, especially those produced by Chateau Kefraya and Chateau Ksara.
In Israel the popular rosé in the 1970s and 1980s was Carmel Grenache Rosé, which was then the largest-selling wine in Israel. Many new consumers came to wine via this rosé. There is one wine writer in Israel who still talks about a romantic meeting on a beach where this wine featured.
It was an induction into wine and a coming of age on the same evening, and he traces his interest in wine to this memorable occasion! However, since those heady days, rosé came to be considered passé in Israel.
Thankfully, the last few years have seen a revival. Wine drinkers realize that this is a style of wine absolutely made for Israel’s climate and wineries have responded by making some quality rosés.
Rosés are made in three ways. The first is separating the grape skins from the must (grape juice) early in the process, then proceeding as though it is a white wine. It is the skins that provide color, so the depth of the color depends on the time of skin contact. The result is basically like a white wine, pink in color, but made from red grapes. This is why wines like White Zinfandel often have the word “white” or “blanc” in their name. They are sometimes referred to as blush wines because of the attractive, delicate pink color.
The second way is the “saignée” method, where wine is “bled” off from the red wine making process. The effect of this both concentrates the red wine and provides a fuller-flavored rosé wine, which is liable to have more character.
The third way is simply mixing red and white wines. This does not happen with table wines but is the normal with champagne.
Rosé is a perfect Mediterranean wine. It should be fragrant, with delicate berry fruit and refreshing acidity. It is suitable for summer drinking, spicy food, cold meats and fish dishes. How about matching colors and drinking a pink wine with baked salmon? Whichever you choose, and however you drink it, be sure to serve it very cold. A summer wine for any occasion – and especially with the right company on Valentine’s Day!
Adam Montefiore works for Carmel Winery and regularly writes about wine both in Israeli and international publications.
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ENTRY LEVEL – up to NIS 30
Carmel Selected White Zinfandel 2010
Semi dry, blush wine with a delicate strawberry nose. Made from Zinfandel grapes.
Barkan Classic Shiraz Rosé 2009
Fresh, dry, slightly spicy and fruity. Made from Shiraz grapes.
BEST BUY (best value for money) – between NIS 30 and NIS 50
Galil Mountain Rosé 2008
Crisp and refreshing rosé made from Sangiovese, Merlot and Barbera grapes.
Dalton Rosé 2009
Beautifully colored rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, with touch of sweetness.
BEST QPR (quality to price ratio) – between NIS 50 and NIS 75
Recanati Rosé 2009
Raspberry and cherry aroma with good acidity. Attractive bottle makes this a great gift. Made from Barbera and Merlot grapes.
Vitkin Israeli Journey Pink 2009 (NK)
A lively blend of Tempranillo, Syrah and Carignan. Refreshing.
SPECIAL PURCHASE – NIS 75 to NIS 90
Flam Rosé 2009 (NK)
Red berry notes, minerally with great acidity. Fresh and fragrant. Made from Cabernet Franc and Merlot. Well balanced.
LUXURY – NIS 90+
Rosé du Castel 2009
Special rosé made by the saignée method from Merlot grapes. Comparatively high alcohol, but complex and extremely rare. Only a few hundred bottles made.
Chateau Golan 2009 (NK)
Made from Cabernet Franc and Grenache. Part fermented in oak, medium to full bodied for a rosé. Mouth-filling and complex.
NK = not kosher