Thanksgiving is almost here and you’ll need to select wines that complement without overpowering the homey American cuisine. Rosé, yes rosé - may be the perfect wine for this enjoyable holiday. Think Thanksgiving and most respond with: turkey, mashed potatoes, vegetables, cranberries, etc…now think wine and imagine rosé: crisp, slightly acidic, fruity, colorful and coy…this type of wine - much maligned in the past - may have found its perfect culinary match. The balance along with acid in the wine is the key since wines with ample amounts of acid, (like most Old World wines) are meant to be paired with food. Try one, you may be surprised.
Today’s winemakers are putting serious effort into producing refined, dry and semi-dry wines that bear little resemblance to the frankly lousy blush wines of yesteryear. Rosés are made from numerous grapes including Rhone varietals such as Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsaut. Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon even Zinfandel are used and rosés of Syrah are gaining popularity in California.
No matter what grapes or exact blend, rosés should be fresh, aromatic, slightly fruity, and acidic with moderate to low alcohol levels. They should be served chilled for a Turkey day companion. Almost every rosé begins with a strawberry nose, and then leans toward some combo of citrus, raspberry, almond and violet. Rosés also offer wide variances in color. Some are like a budding pink tulips and others look like the last rays of a beautiful sunset. Some rosés appear in stunning salmon while others lean toward a pale garnet or coppery red. And some rosés really do look like strawberry soda. Like most wines, give each bottle a little time to open up before serving.
Julien Fayard, a Napa winemaker who grew up in Provencal town of Toulon knows all about rosés. “Dry Rosé is a gastronomical wine. It's a perfect pairing for Thanksgiving as it is a refreshing contrast to the warm, rich and heavy dishes. Rosé is a palate cleanser and an extremely versatile wine that pairs with the mosaic of flavors on the table.” Rosésby the way, outsell white wines throughout France. Here are some excellent California as well as French rosés, tasty and reasonable priced.
Here in California, many rosés are worthy additions to the holiday feast.
Julien Fayard’s label, Azurwines of Napa produces one of the most serious rosés on the market. Palest pink with a grapefruity nose and plenty of nuanced flavors, this wine will get noticed.
Red Cote from Artisan Family of Wines in Solano County produces a delectable off dry medium bodied rosé worth seeking out. This wine, a Cabernet/Petite Sirah cranberry colored blend will pair perfectly with turkey, fresh yams, pumpkin pie and sweeter elements of Turkey Day.
Peju, in Napa Valley makes a bold Rosé of Syrah, the most striking ruby color I’ve seen. With hints of watermelon, strawberry and even cherry, this wine wants and deserves attention.
Simi’s Roséto from Sonoma County offers pale strawberry, peach and melon notes, is well balanced and very easy to enjoy. This playful rosé is one you should consider this Thanksgiving.
Of course the French are well respected.
Cep d’Or from Appellation Cotes de Provence. This A 50-50 blend of Cinsault and Grenache is a lovely little slice of Saint-Tropez in a glass. The delicate wines still has enough flavor to pair admirably with poultry, veggies and autumnal fruits.
Domaine de Brigue is another fine rosé from Cotes de Provence. Called Signature, this wine with the delightful strawberry, apricot and vanilla bouquet will make you smile, or laugh - even with annoying relatives nearby. (You know who you are)
Chateau Vignelaure from Aix en Provence offers a much lower alcohol profile while still retaining enough structure to match well with turkey.
Chateau Real Martin produces a tasty rosewater colored rosé with a bolder, fruitier flavor than most, yet expertly balanced between structure, finish, acid and alcohol.
Save the heavier wines for another day and think pink this Thanksgiving. The pairing of rosés with your Holiday meal may surprise you.
c. Bob Ecker 2010