Rosé basics

Rosé sales are rising—more than 50 percent in 2017, and 2018 was just as hot. If you have not risen to rosé yet, odds are good you will.

So, what exactly is rosé wine and how is it made?

Rosé is pink wine made with red grapes. To make both red wine and rosé wine, winemakers leave juice in contact with the skins, a process called maceration. Most rosés experience one to three days of maceration, reds much longer.

You also can make rosé by blending white wine with red wine, but that typically is frowned upon. Except with rosé Champagne, where it is common.

Rosé is the French pronunciation for rose—the flower—and is the name most often associated with pink wine. It is called rosato in Italy and rosado in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries.

France is home to the most famous rosé region in the world: Provence, where they have been making rosé for at least 2,500 years. Provençal rosé exports to the United States now are well past 1.3 million cases a year. Provençal rosés generally are light pink in color and often come in very distinctive bottles.

Rosé is terrific food wine. Crisp and acidic, it pairs with seafood, shellfish, poultry, grilled foods in general, Thai and Asian fusion, cheese. It even can pair with asparagus, no easy trick. At Thanksgiving-Christmas, it pairs with turkey, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

In the 1980s, rosé’s reputation was defiled by association with sweet, cheap, blush wines. Yes, white zin is a rosé. You can indulge in such rosés if that is what you enjoy, however the rise of rosé in recent years is fueled by dry or off-dry offerings with crisp acidity.

Rosé covers almost every price range, but as a rule, expect to spend $15-30 for quality. Bonus—the fancier Provençal bottles make lovely souvenirs as water bottles and flower holders.

Tasting notes:

• Commanderie de Peyrassol Côtes de Provence Rosé Cuvée de la Commanderie 2018: Elegant, distinctive, delicious. $16-18. Link to my review

• Canella Rosé Spumante Brut NV: Light, fresh, flavorful Italian sparkling; attractive color; vigorous perlage. $19-23 Link to my review

• Long Meadow Ranch Rosé of Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley 2017: Lovely to look at, delicious to drink, impressive complexity. $23-25 Link to my review

• Etude Rosé, Santa Barbara County 2018: Fresh strawberries, white peach, framed by crisp acidity and minerality. $25 Link to my review

Last round: People say money can’t buy happiness. Obviously they have never purchased a good rosé.