“Anyone who starts analyzing the taste of a rosé in public should be thrown into the pool immediately.” – Jay McInerney
Call it Patio Wine, Summer Sipper, vin gris, or blanc de noir. We often unfairly dismiss rosé as insipid, cloyingly-sweet or unsophisticated. And in the hands of the work winemaker, it can be! Yet, in Europe, rosé has long been the quintessential wine for the days when the mercury rises. Lady Wife and I have spent many a Summer afternoon in Provence and Umbria, listening to the drone of bees and cicadas as we lingered over lunch with a bottle (or three) of crisp, chilled rosé. But only in the last decade have the “respectable” rosés made their way to the United States.
While there ARE many bad rosés — manufactured industrially to create precisely the right shade of pink and just the right fruit aromas, with maybe a little sweetness for the soft-drink lovers — good rosés abound, too. These are likely to be bone dry, though not always. They will be balanced with aromas, flavors and colors arrived at naturally, without manipulation on the assembly line.
So for our June culinary society event, I decided on the theme of 50 Shades of Rosé. While there won’t be 50, there will be about a dozen featured, representing the varietals of pinot noir, merlot, grenache, malbec, sangiovese, carignano, cinsault and syrah. It really is the perfect wine for Summer. With flavors and aromas of grapefruit, strawberry, blackberry, mint and honeysuckle, the wine is perfect for the lighter fare that comes with the hot weather. And as most are between 8-11% ABV, they are lighter on the alcohol content as well.
Rather than a multi-course seated dinner, we’re going to do tasting stations, where the wines will be paired with various foods. More of a mix-and-mingle informal event suitable for the season. The menu will include:
Selection of French Cheeses
Fruit de Mer Display
Mini Croque Monsieur
Cured Salmon & Dill Yogurt on Cucumber
Beef and Blue Cheese Crostini
Beet Tartare & Goat Cheese on Endive
Duck Confit, & Pickled Onions on Crostini
Potato Gruyere and Brie Croquettes
Selection of Bite-Size French Pastry
I love planning the Summer events, because they are so simple. July will be our Picnic en Blanc for Bastille Day, and August’s event is Champagne & Caviar. I love the elegance of the White Picnic. People put such thought into their table setting, menus and decorations. We provide welcoming Champagne and hors d’oeuvres, and the participants do all the rest. We award prizes for the best menu, most elegant table, etc. Late July also has a d’Arenberg wine tasting which requires zero effort on my part, other than sending out the invitation to the membership.