Rethinking rosé

Col-head-ZalkinAs temperatures creep up, and a haze sets over Long Island Sound, I invite you to do as they do on the Mediterranean coast and reach for a plate of tapas and a nice, chilled, rosé.

Skeptical? For some, the word “rosé” conjures up memories of candy-sweet offerings in unsophisticated hues, but think again! Gone are the “wine cooler” rosés of the 1980s, replaced by fresh, complex offerings from producers throughout Europe and California. Non-sparkling rosés offer excellent value, with the price of a fine bottle topping out at around $30, while pink Champagnes are hailed as some of the finest offerings of the great Champagne producers.

Rosés pair well with warm weather dishes like paella, grilled fish, and cheesy flatbreads, and are served chilled, making them a perfect refreshment in hot weather.

The characteristic pink hue of rosé comes from allowing the juice to remain in contact with the skins for a limited time (as opposed to days or weeks in traditional red winemaking), thus, the wine acquires some of the color and flavor of the skin, but is dominated by the character of its mild, fleshy center, yielding a brighter, more cheerful cousin to red wines made from the same grapes.

You’ll see rosés from red wine grapes such as, grenache, merlot, pinot noir, tempranillo, syrah, and malbec and often a blend of two or more. Select a rosé made with your preferred grape to conjure pleasant echoes of your favorite varietals at a time of year when a dense, full bodied red feels about as appropriate as a glass of egg nog.

But don’t just take our word for it. You can try it out for yourself and here are a few rosés we recommend:

• Estandon, Cotes de Provonce. Rosés from Provence tend to be lighter and drier than most and Estandon is no exception. Made from a blend of cinsault, grenache gris and syrah, this wine has complex notes of fragrant tea and white raspberry, with a dry and lingering finish. Pair it with smoky grilled seafood, bouillabaisse, lamb and pesto.

• Hogwash Rose. This is made using the saignée method, in which some of the liquid is bled off while making red wine, to concentrate the red, while creating a delightfully drinkable rosé, which is a win-win for vintners and wine enthusiasts alike. This wine has notes of tropical fruit and citrus, with a refreshing acidity that makes it an excellent palette cleanser with oily foods. Pair it with tomato-based dishes, Nicoise salad, or, of course, grilled pork.

• Chateau Roubine Rose. A delicate wine with initial notes of lemon zest, pineapple and strawberry, rounded out by the gentle sweetness of melon and a delicate acidity that makes it delightful on its own. Pair it with a platter of mild, creamy cheeses, a grilled slab of grass-fed beef, or enjoy it alone as an aperitif.

You can find all of these delightful rosés for purchase at our store, Old Greenwich Fine Wines, located at 195 Sound Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich or visit our website When you stop in, we invite you to taste a number of our favorite wines while we help you find the right bottle for your palate.

Robert Zalkin is the owner of Old Greenwich Fine Wines at 195 Sound Beach Avenue. His column will be available weekly at

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