Wine Line: French rosés finally on area shelves

rgwinton@yahoo.com.June 29, 2013 

Good news, Merced. The 2012 French rosés have finally found shelf space in the local Costco.

I love dry pink wine. In past years, I'd drive to San Francisco to get my rosé fix. Not anymore.

The decision to sell French rosé in smaller markets is a no-brainer. According to the Provence Wine Council, Provence rosé imports to the United States have grown at double-digit rates every year since 2003. Last year, imported rosés increased 28 percent. Most were from Provence.

Provence is the biggest exporter and producer of rosé in the world. In fact, rosé outsells white wine in France.

Rosé is French for "pink," and a true rosé is made from red wine grapes. Rosé producers keep the skins in contact with the juice for only a brief time (anywhere from a few hours to several days) before the juice is drained off.

When the winemaker is happy with the color, the winemaking process continues as it would for white wines. The rosé picks up acidity and tannins from the grape skins but its fruit flavors will soon fade. This is why you want to buy the most recent vintage available (2012).

Many consumers still equate pink with sweet because of the white zinfandel and sweet blush wine craze. A typical American blush wine contains nearly seven times as much residual sugar per liter as a Provencal rosé. This is why rosé is the perfect food wine.

In "Oldman's Brave New World of Wine" (W.W. Norton & Co., $19.95), Mark Oldman suggests that you follow his "Rosé Rule of P" to achieve rosé nirvana. This means you can serve rosé with anything pink, such as lobster, shrimp, ham, pork or anything Provencal, such as bouillabaisse, salad Nicoise or grilled sardines. And that's not all. He recommends spicy ethnic foods such as Indian and Chinese, smoked meats and other barbecue fare, chicken stir-fry, turkey burgers, nachos, potato salads, vegetarian dishes, salads, red peppers, anchovies and tapas, sushi, teriyaki dishes and paella.

I like pairing a chilled rosé with an All-American hot dog and a bag of salty potato chips — simply divine for the Fourth of July.

My favorite Costco rosé is the 2012 Saint Roch Les Vignes, appellation Cotes De Provence. It is the least expensive ($9.99) and is 50 percent cinsault and 50 percent grenache. It has fresh red fruit flavors with a touch of watermelon and a medium body. It is crisp with a nice finish. I suggest you buy all three rosés and invite your "we- don't-drink-pink-wine" friends over for a blind tasting.

Throw some dogs on the barbecue, open the chips and have some fun. Real men drink pink!

In other news

Nine weeks ago the Grove opened its doors on Highway 156. You probably remember it as the Sugar Plum Farm or, more recently, the Cedar House. Leal Winery is the new owner. The winery has replanted 50 Manzanillo olive trees around the building. It has a tasting room, bakery and restaurant that seats 160. The winery can handle 400 for special outdoor parties and events. The Grove will always be open to the public and will focus on farm-to-table events featuring local produce and wines from San Benito County. It's a perfect rest, stretch, eat, taste stop on the way to Monterey. Cheers!

Questions? Comments? Suggestions? Find me on Facebook or at rgwinton@yahoo.com.

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