Ros? wines making a comeback

The first midsummer night ros? menu, takeout Thai, was worthy of the new league of pink champions known as the Ros? Avengers and Producers. • These ros? fans and winemakers united a few years ago in San Francisco to win back ros?'s good name. They wanted to show that wine in silly salmon or cream-soda red still has guts and millennial fashion. "Goes with spicy Thai'' is a staple in their bragging (along with shellfish, salads, burgers and pizza). • Sure enough, a glass of Red Guitar's old vine ros? from Spain has sassy fun with duck salad and Panang curry's peanuts and shrimp.

With food, or solo

Another night I challenged ros?s to hold up against a wintry stew of carrots, potatoes and chunky lamb shanks braised in red wine and mushrooms. Too much? Not at all; pink drinks from Sicily, France and Australia are easy drinking mates, with enough flavor to match the lamb, crispness to cut the fat, and fruit to make a heavy meal smile with a light heart.

Ros? wines, made around the world and especially popular in lands of long, hot summers, put to rest the fuss about food and wine pairings. Wine, especially ros?, goes with food, period. For most food, ros? is a no-worries choice.

But who needs food to enjoy a glass? We and much of the world like ros? as a fresh, light afternoon drink, made for the back yard. We first fell for Mateus and Lancers from Portugal and then 25 years ago with white zinfandel. Those who "outgrew'' those sweeter pink wines should blush to hear that white zin still accounts for almost 10 percent of all wine sales in the United States.

Modern ros?s, however, are a much drier breed, like those of the Rhone and Provence, affordable, dry and perfect chilled in a cafe on a summer afternoon.

Wineries can make ros? from any red wine grape by removing the juice from crushed grape skins before they turn dark.

The French prefer Rhone grapes, as do Australians, but pinot noir, tempranillo and the wealth of Italian reds have all made lighter, rosier versions. In ros? Champagne, pinot noir makes a sparkler richer.

Love at first blush

Today, ros? sales of the dry kind are booming in the $6 and up category. Every big table wine brand, from Yellowtail and Red Truck to Fat Bastard, comes in pink.

Wine folks who formed Rose Avengers and Producers a few years ago were led by Jeff Morgan, who started a brand, SoloRosa, to focus on seriously good ros?: not $30, but wines well worth $8 to $15.

Member wineries — Clos Du Bois, Saintsbury, Iron Horse, Bogle, Fife, St. Francis and more — are united behind a cartoon logo of superheroes in pink capes.

If you're afraid to think pink, call them red wines you can stick in the fridge or ice cooler, room temperature be damned. Still can't say ros?? Bellow rosado or rosato, and make it rhyme with Tony Soprano. Fire up the grill, throw on burgers, brats and heads-on shrimp, pour out a big glass of ros?. Get real. Get pink.

Contact Chris Sherman at csherman@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8585.

Tasting notes

All the world loves ros? — and makes them from a wide range of red grapes. The most common use the grapes of southern France: grenache/garnacha, syrah/shiraz and carignan. • They are best young and cold and go well with many foods, from ham and salads to hot Asian dishes. • A few ros?s sell for more, but you can find a range of good ones for $5 to $10. You can afford to try a number this summer. Here are a few we liked.

Chateau La Baume (carignan, syrah, grenache), Costieres de Nimes, 2005, $10. Clear, shiny red with copper undertones from the Rhone. Not as fresh, but full and rich and more savory. Strawberry pie heavy on rhubarb and spice.

Domaine de Saint-Antoine ros? (blend), 2004, $10. A darker crimson and not as bright, until you lift it up to smell and taste the cranberries, plums and smashed strawberries. Bright, tart fruit flavor but round and easy on the tongue. Picnic in a bottle.

Red Guitar, Old Vine Rose (garnacha), Navaras, 2006, $10. Shiny, bright salmon. Full of raspberries and cherries, with the easiest of textures in the mouth. Ready to play along with anyone.

Regaleali Le Ros? (nerello mascalese), Sicily, 2005, $12. Crystal bright watermelon-red, fragrant and full of fruit with a bit of spritz. Clean and refreshing, with a decent finish. Light-hearted and big-bodied, wants to hang out at the grill.

Yangarra Ros? (shiraz-grenache), McLaren Vale, Australia, 2006, $9. Gleaming Maraschino-juice pink, with a touch of 7-Up sparkle; the cherries in the aroma and palate are firmer stuff, spiked with mint and pink grapefruit. Shout this bloke a curry.

Chris Sherman

Ros? wines making a comeback 07/15/08 [Last modified: Friday, July 18, 2008 10:21am]

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