By Alan Richman, GQ. Source.
GQ‘s premier wine expert tells you everything you need to know about the always-chilled, often confusing summer classic
We’ve all learned to serve wine at the proper temperature. Rosé, I’ve found, is the only wine that tastes best when it’s 75 degrees or hotter.
I’m not talking about the temperature of the liquid in the glass. I’m referring to the temperature outside. Rosé should be chilled, of course, but it’s a wine for drinking outdoors, on a sizzling hot day. It’s the most seasonal of all wines, the seasons being late Spring through early Fall.
Here’s something else you should know. You might think, as I once did, that a proper rosé is a blend of white and red grapes. Not true, except when it’s a sparkler. Rosé is almost never—except in rogue countries—a blend of red and white.
Rosé is produced from red-wine (generally called “black”) grapes and has a flavor profile resembling that of a red wine. The tastes and smells are often those associated with strawberries, raspberries, or cherries. The color is a result of brief contact with the skin of those black grapes. (Color comes from the skin of the grape, not from the flesh of the grape.) Yet it’s vinified as though it were a white wine.
Most people drink rosé on occasions when they would otherwise be selecting a white. It’s served cold, seldom if ever stains teeth, and rarely gives anyone a headache. Does that sound like a wine made from black grapes to you?
Allow me to offer other insights into the weird world of rosé. Most people think of it as a sweet wine. Not exactly a dessert wine, but one with noticeable residual sugar. I think sweet rosés are a mistake.
That puts me at odds with practically the entire Rosé d’Anjou appellation, one of the most famous in France. Those wines are consistently sweet, which is why I never recommend them. They’re not bad; they just have too much sugar for me. Sweet wines aren’t revitalizing on scorching hot days. Ice cold and darned dry is what you want under those conditions.
Most people who don’t like sweet rosés came to their dislike honestly. For me, something of an old-timer, my fatal experience was drinking too much semi-sweet Mateus Rosé when I was young. For most of you, I would think the consumption of White Zinfandel—really somewhat of a sweet rosé—would have had the same effect.
I’ve delayed too long in setting forth the virtues of rosé. It has a reputation of going well with every food, and that’s accurate. However, there is one category of food with which it pairs exquisitely—the contents of a picnic basket. In addition, rosé has a simple, natural beauty that’s transcendent in sunshine. It seems to evoke the undeniable charm of Provence, even in people who have never been to Provence, and even if the wine was not made in Provence. Rosé simply feels like it’s from Provence, a beneficial hallucinatory quality.
Finally, you won’t ever have to battle sommeliers when you order rosé. Ask for a white wine and those guys always want you to drink it too warm. They’re always trying to keep whites out of the ice bucket. Fortunately, they’re so uninterested in rosés they will good-naturedly serve them however a customer wants. You should want them very cold.
The very best thing about rosé is that it comes with few expectations. All that’s required is that it be pretty and refreshing. What could be less demanding than that?