It’s official. Rosé has become the “it” wine for summer, gracing magazine covers and restaurant wine lists throughout the country, and popping up like wild flowers on wine shop shelves in every city. With summer officially here, Independence Day is the perfect time to pop the cork (or unscrew the cap) on some Dry Creek Valley rosé. Here’s a quick tip sheet on the origins of rosé wines, plus a few to try:
- A rosé by any other name is still a rosé — even if it’s called blush, rosado or rosato. Rosé’s many monikers denote its popularity around the world, including many of the oldest and best-known wine producing regions. France’s Provence region has become ubiquitous with rosé, producing mostly barely pink or salmon-colored wines with bright acidity that pair well with seafood and light fare. Dry Creek Valley wineries produce an array of rosé wines, ranging from the light “Provencal” style to more robust, magenta-colored wines that can stand up to grilled meats and spicy Asian or Latin fare.
- Rosé may look sweetly pink, but most Dry Creek Valley rosés are in fact dry wines meant for sipping or pairing with savory foods. Rosé gained a reputation in the US as being a “sweet” wine thanks to the popularity of “White Zinfandel,” which has spawned a love it/hate it debate among wine drinkers for the past few decades. Nowadays, dry styles of rosé are beloved by sommeliers and Everyday Joes/Janes alike for their versatility, refreshing flavors, and approachability.
- “White Zin” versus Zinfandel rosé — what’s the difference? Zinfandel can produce rosés in a variety of styles, just like any other red grape, including Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir or any combination thereof. As the world’s #1 Zin-growing region (many have said it, not just us!), Dry Creek Valley turns a lot of this Zinfandel into beautiful rosés. What makes them different from “White Zin”? It’s all just a name, but White Zins tend to be sweeter, simpler wines selling for $5-10 and widely available in grocery stores, gas stations, etc. Zinfandel rosés from Dry Creek Valley are hand-crafted wines made from great fruit in small batches — so get ‘em while they’re here, because rosé always sells out!
- Saignée v. Blending: While rosé can be made from blending a little red wine into white, most rosés are produced via the skin-contact method. When rosé is the primary goal, red wine grapes are crushed, with the skins allowed to stay in contact with the juice for a short time, typically 1-3 days, before the skins are removed and the juice is fermented. Some winemakers use the Saignée (French for “bleeding”) method, which is the same as above except that some amount of the juice is “bled” off after some skin contact and turned into rosé, with the remaining, more concentrated juice staying on the skins to become a robust red wine.
- “Blush”ing wines: In 1976, wine writer Jerry D. Mead visited Mill Creek Vineyards, one of Dry Creek Valley’s oldest wineries, and tasted a wine made from Cabernet that was a pale pink and as yet unnamed. Owner Charles Kreck would not call it “White Cabernet” as it was much darker in color than other similarly-styled wines of the time. Mead jokingly suggested the name “Cabernet Blush,” then that evening phoned Kreck to say that he no longer thought the name a joke. In 1978, Kreck trademarked the word “Blush.” The name caught on as a handle for the semi-sweet wines from producers such as Sutter Home and Beringer. Today, Blush wine appears on wine lists more often as a category, rather than a specific wine. In 2010, Mill Creek produced a rosé wine for the first time in years, although Jeremy Kreck (Charles’ grandson and current winemaker) chose not to use the Blush name.
Some Dry Creek Valley rosés to try this week:
Dry Creek Vineyard Petite Zin Rosé, $18
Pedroncelli Zinfandel Rosé, $12
Kokomo Grenache Rosé, $22
Mill Creek Rosé, $19