Drink First With Your Eyes and Then Your Taste Buds

France’s most refreshing pink drink is the main wine of summer. It’s fresh, crisp, and just the right match for summer salad, pizzas, and almost anything off the grill!

Rose is something you drink first with your eyes, and then with your taste buds.  That’s what a Frenchman told me when we were sipping a coppery pink version that tasted like fresh peaches and cream in a glass last time we were in France.  He wasn’t kidding.  For the advocates, French rose is visual appearance ranging from palest light pink to deepest strawberry red.  The difference in colors is matched only by the variety of styles:  what is light, crisp, refreshing in one region, is full bodied, intense and silky smooth in another region.  And summer is the prefect time to enjoy   rose.  There ‘s just something about summer food-grilled vegetables, steaks, salads, simple seafood dishes-that calls for a glass of something cool and pink.

The most convincing (although maybe not the most romantic) reason to drink French rose comes down to value.  We go through our fair share of rose at our store, so price is very much an issue when it comes down to sales.  Some of the Cult Italian producers rose reaches upward of $80-$100 a bottle. Some of the local California roses approach $40s.  And while you could spend upwards of  $120 on a bottle of Chateau D’Esclans”Garrus” from Provence, you really don’t have to. J  There are plenty of exceptional French roses from Provence, and beyond that are made for summer sipping that are food-friendly, and cost less than $30 a bottle!  The cooler climates of France produces higher acid and lower sugar and alcohol than most Spanish or many New World roses, making them perfect at the summer table.

To be more specific we need to spend time first on explaining color.  Rose wines get their shade from the skins of red grapes.  The grape varietal and the length of time the juice has contact with the skin determine the intensity of color.  Grape skins are also what give a wine it’s tannins, so darker roses are often fuller bodied than their lighter counterparts, like the bright red Greache-driven wines from Tavel in the southern Rhone, or the Cabernet- and Merlot base version From Bordeaux.  Conversely the pale and pretty roses from Provence and the Loire tend to be crisp and lighter in style.

Color can give you other hints about the wine as well.   One of the main things we share with customers is before any tasting; you should first look at the color. This can spot defects.  Then you need to ask yourself some questions such as “Is it a bright and fresh color? Is it beautiful?  And finally going back to the French gentleman – First look and then stick your nose in!

Three of our favorite roses from Provance are   Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose from Provance, Chateau de Pampelonne Rose and Domaine Ott Rose.

There’s a world of rose beyond Provence and, depending on your mood and menu, you might want to venture out to   Languedoc-Roussillon region.  There are plenty more roses from burgundy, Sancerre and Loire Valley that are Pinot based that will be a great accompaniment with a flank steak or grilled pork, smoked trout or pate.  The Roses are also a must with fresh goat cheese or spicy ethnic cuisines from Thai to Mexican or Indian foods.

So, may be as superficial as this could be said: “Judge a glass by its color.”

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