Arts and Entertainment

The Wine Revolution: Celebrate spring with rosé

Well, spring has finally, honestly arrived. There is a small cluster of tulips in my back yard.

They venture their brave heads out of the soil as the temperatures warm each year, and I eagerly track their progress from my warm dining room window. This morning, they were standing proudly in the sun, their pink petals open to receive the season. And I, sitting at the table gazing at them, wondering what I was going to write about this month, was inspired by them. For no wine on earth quite captures the delicate and welcome light of springtime quite like the pink rosé.

There has been a lot of focus on rosé in the last few years; it is one of the fastest growing wine categories in the United States. This is well-deserved attention, in my opinion. The quality of these blushing beauties is rapidly increasing to match demand. The opulent, sickly sweet versions are falling out of vogue, creating shelf space for the more traditional dry styles.

White Zinfandel may be the only experience many of us need to have with rosé before we decide that it isn’t a style of wine to be pursued. To be fair, for those of you who love white zin, perhaps nothing else will do, and I, as always, encourage you to drink what you love. However, some of the new world styles of rosé on the market may be just what is needed to point you in a new and interesting direction. For the many wine drinkers who prefer a crisp, dry wine, this change has been welcome.

I feel that a good rosé brings together the finest qualities of both a red and white wine — all of the bursting berry fruit a red wine offers, matched with the acidity and freshness of a white wine. How, you might ask, is this possible? The secret to the diversity of these wines lies in the various processes used to make it.

The wines I get excited about are the traditional rosés, made through a process called sagnée.

Sagnée is the French term for “bleeding off.” Winemakers take the juice from red grapes and strain it off right after pressing, the way they do with juice from green grapes, rather than letting the juice sit on the skins.

There are many wonderful rosés made in Washington state these days (try Bernard Griffin’s Rosé of Sangiovese) and from California, too. France is the leader in Europe, with the most famous wines being from the region of Provençe (who wouldn’t want to be there in the springtime?), followed closely by the wonderful and affordable offerings from Spain. These wines are made to be drunk young. Ask your wine steward for his or her favorites this year.

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