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, playful…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 numous grapes including Rhone varietals such as Mourvedre, Grenache, and Cinsaut. Merlot, Cabernet Suavignon 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, 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, 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 winemaker in Napa, grew up in Provencal town of Toulon and 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.” Provence is the home to rosé, however many Provencal rosés just won’t properly stand up to the hearty Thanksgiving fare. Most are best left for sunny days sitting in a Nimés cafe. Yet some do make the cut and will be a welcome addition this coming Thursday. Below are some excellent rosés of note.
Cep d’Or from Appellation Cotes de Provence. This A 50-50 blend of Cinsault and Grenache is a lovely little slice of Saint-Tropezin 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. Strawberry, apricot and vanilla, this wine 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.
Stateside, 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.
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.
Ceja produces a delectable rosé of Syrah called, Bella Flor, a Dry Rosé from the SonomaCoast. This is a big, strong, fruit forward rosé that needs no apologies for standing tall on a table. It’s a winner.
Bouchaine Vineyards in Carneros also produce an interesting Rosé of Syrah. Like a delicious sliced strawberry in a bottle, this fun wine will be enjoyed by everyone.
Simi’s Roséto Rosé from SonomaCounty. This a peachy, well balanced, fruity and delicious rosé you might want to sample. Intriguing essence of melon too.
Red Cote from SuisunValley, near Napa produces an 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.
Save the heavier wines for another day and drink pink this Thanksgiving.
c. Bob Ecker 2010