Let's dive into rosé for my first Camera drinks column, yes? The pool is deep, slightly chilled and refreshing. And the liquid remains free of chlorine and other nasties — please, drink while you swim!
For readers who remember anything about rosé in the United States during the '70s, '80s and '90s, erase the memories — pretend it's one big black-out. Chances are the wine was Jolly Rancher-sweet and left you feeling melancholy in the morning, your soul bruised, because you guzzled it like soda.
Let's sip some good stuff, pinkos. The best rosé begins by following the route towards making red wine — press juice from the dark grapes and let the relatively clear juice sit with the skins, which impart color. Rosé carouses with skins only briefly, imparting variations of sunset rather than the brooding crimson and plum colors of most red wines. The juice-with-skins parsimony, too, keeps rosé relatively free of the grippy tannins found in red wines.
The place to begin the rosé regatta is the Provence region of France, a lavender-perfumed knuckle of land bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. I spent weeks sipping rosé, with liquid visits to Austria, Italy, Spain and the United States, and Provencal's style became the standard-setter. It's usually pale, often the color of a mild blush.
The grapes vary somewhat, but often involve mourvèdre, grenache and cinsault.
"Provence is classic — lean, crisp, refreshing. You can get flavors of raspberry and peach," said Ariana Ross, a Boulderite wine rep with wine distributor Pioneer Wine and wine Instagrammer @thesimplesomm. She added, and this is key: "One of the many great things about rosé is it drinks way beyond the price. You can drink some fantastic wines without breaking the bank."
Here at Drinking With Doug, we always trumpet value.
Both Matt Modrzejewski, a wine buyer at Superior Liquor, and Sarah Strasser, from B Town Wine + Spirits in Boulder, urged me towards one of my favorites, La Vidaubanaise Le Provençal, a spectacle of light colors and whispering flavors — psst, peach ... psst, pear — in a curvaceous bottle-style unique to Provençal rosés called a "corset." Superior's rosé inventory may be the largest in the state — the aisle holds more than 100 different expressions. For a one-stop tour of the world of rosé, Superior is worth a visit.
So is The Kitchen restaurant in Boulder, which this summer features a "Rosé All Day" program showcasing five rosé wines and a rosé cocktail. I diligently completed the arduous trek through the menu for your benefit — you're welcome! — and am happy to report that the menu serves as an excellent rosé primer, with selections from Provence, Spain, Italy and California. One of the rosés, called Ah-So (an ah-so is a wine opener with two prongs), even has a Colorado pedigree — Dustin Chiappetta, who owns the Denver bottle shop Pearl Wine Company, is a partner in the brand.
Colors ranged from the palest of peach (the Triennes, from Provence) to something more like Kool-Aid (the Ah-So, which comes in a can), and the dry flavors see-sawed: Some were juicier, with stronger fruit flavors, while others offered heavier perfume and a touch more balance between fruit and acid. All of them made my heart rosy.
"I love rosé's versatility," said Tim Wanner, The Kitchen's beverage director, as we sipped a sparkling rosé from France's Loire region. "The table can have a pork dish. Fish. A side-salad. And rosé works with them all. People are taking rosé more seriously now — the stuff on the market is so much better. It used to be, 'We will drink the rosé now, and the serious stuff later.' But no more."
Like white wine, rosé is best served with a slight chill. Ross' advice: Keep it in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Then park it on the counter. As time passes and the rosé's chill declines, you will experience many temperature gradations. Pick your favorite.
It's time to begin your personal rosé odyssey — the wine goes with everything, it's affordable and the very idea of summer dwells in its DNA. And soon after you begin experimenting, you too might embrace a favorite slogan: Pinkos of the world, unite!
Longtime journalist and Boulderite Doug Brown writes about adult beverages for the Camera. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram and Twitter @drinkingwithdoug.