The day of wine and roses, lest we forget cards and candy, better known as St. Valentine’s Day, is just around the corner. It is the one (Hallmark) holiday celebrated each February 14th reserved for lovers and romance. Though historians debate to this day the true legend of St Valentine, it is said that before his death while imprisoned in Rome, he sent a letter to a young lady he had fallen in love with, which he signed “From your Valentine”. That expression is still widely used to this day thanks in part to this legendary romantic.
Always looking for a reason to please our loved ones, be it with words, cards, letters, chocolate, roses, a fabulous dining experience, or any number of personal creative expressions, when it comes to wine on St. Valentines, the typical Cabernet and Chardonnay just doesn’t fit the bill. If there was any one wine that would define love to the nth degree for this particular day, it would be Rose.
In recent years, the Rose explosion has become quite the phenomenon in wine markets around the world. These light refreshing wines were once visually mistaken for sweet white zinfandel. They both may appear pink in color but that is where the similarity ends. Aficionados around the globe have discovered and embraced the wide range of dry style Rose that wine makers from every growing region from France to Italy, California to New Zealand and nearly every vineyard worldwide that grows red grapes have embraced.
In recent years, Rose wines have found their way into wine cellars and nearly every restaurant wine list. There was a time when the most popular Rose produced throughout the world came from either France or Spain, where it is known as Rosado. For years, Rose d’Anjou, which originates in the Loire Valley of France, Tavel from the Southern Rhone Valley and especially Rose from the Provence region reigned supreme.
Rose wines are produced from any number of red grape sources. Grenache, Cinsaut, Syrah, Mouvedre, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, and Cabernet Sauvignon are but a few of the principal grape varietals used in their making. They get their pink hue from being left in contact with the red grape skins for a very short period of time, usually no more than 2 to 24 hours, depending on the style the wine maker chooses to implore. Their styles range from super light pink in color, to somewhat orange to near vivid red in color. Because they are in contact with the skins for such a minimal amount of time, they tend to be less tannic, lower in alcohol, with very little acidity and pucker power, resulting in a more palate friendly wine.
Also gaining popularity in recent years is Rose style Champagne and Sparklings. With the impact of cherry, raspberry and strawberry flavors, serious drinkers of the bubbly tout their graces, reflected by their popularity, high ratings and unfortunately, higher price tags.
The quality of Rose produced around the world has risen by leaps and bounds. Their price points now vary like any other red or white wine, from under $10 to well over $50 in some cases. Rose of Champagne can range from the inexpensive to the near mortgage $500 range. Whatever your price point, you can be assured of finding great examples you are sure to enjoy.
Some of my personal favorites the past number of years have been in the under $15 range. I have sampled many in the $20 to $50 range that left me shaking my head because of their questionable quality in ratio to their high price tag. Price does not always reflect quality. A few I highly recommend include Bernard Griffin Rose of Sangiovese from Washington State, Mulderbosch Rose from South Africa and Russell B Gregory Rose from Michigan.
Rose wines are no longer low on the popularity chain once more and more people began to realize their potential as a perfect match for a vast number of cuisines. Dishes that were once destined to be paired with a lighter style white wine are now being substituted with a Rose.
Fish, poultry, vegetarian dishes and especially salads are greatly complimented by the attributes of a Rose. They tend to be a perfect match for ham, turkey, lighter poultry, and surprisingly enough, hard to match Asian dishes. Their light fruity texture will not overpower these food pairings and are very versatile in their respect for taming generous amounts of spice, garlic, and herbs. Served lightly chilled as would most white wines, they are also a recommended starter before a meal with appetizers and a large variety of cheeses.
When the heat of summer is just too unbearable for a huge red wine, Rose comes to the rescue. Vintners have mastered the preferred dry style, an excellent compliment to a sunny day in the backyard or out on the water enjoying a perfect sail out on the lake. Mix in a few berries, some chocolate, sourdough bread, a hunk of Gruyere cheese and some toasted macaroons, and you’ve got the makings of St. Valentine’s Day the other 364 days of the year.
You can look all day for the just the right card, or try to find the perfect expression imprinted on a piece of heart candy in a box. Instead, find your Valentine the perfect Rose wine that will warm the heart and inspire intimate passion. That’s Amore!