Italian wine: Rosé isn't just for summertime!
- WTI Magazine #158 Dec 17, 2022
For us New Englanders the cold weather has arrived and we're awaiting the snow days to arrive. Some of us are excited about it and many aren't. Of course it's more common for folks to get into the mindset of drinking rosé wines when the weather is warmer. If you're lucky enough to have fantastic weather year round than you may always have rosé in mind as a choice for your beverage selections or wine pairings with meal.
Either way, I'd like to think the average wine consumer has gotten past the point of considering rosé wines as a pink, inexpensive wine, and has surpassed the thoughts of comparing it to white zinfandel. I definitely hope we're past that point for the majority of wine drinkers out there.
If not, hopefully these suggestions below will get to open your eyes to the variety of rosé wines available to you throughout Italy and forget some of those sweet laden wines without much character.
To start, you may wonder what exactly is a rosé wine and how does it get that pinkish hue? Blending red and white juice from the grapes or an addition of food coloring? Nope! There are many shades of rosé and that is determined by the winemaker's choice of the length of time the skins macerate with the juice as well as the grape itself being used. It could be a matter of hours or days. The longer the maceration of the skins with the juice, the deeper the color.
There are plenty of options to consider today when it comes to choosing a bottle of rosé from all the wine producing countries of the world whether it's Provence or Tavel in France, a rosado from the Navarra in Spain, the United Status, Germany, Australia or Portugal. The list goes on my friends. Italy tops the charts for rosé as there are many variations in styles from northern to southern Italy. I'm generalizing here, but you'll find more softer, delicate. crisp rosé from northern Italy vs. fuller bodied, ripe, fruit forward rosé of southern Italy due to the more intense heat.
This is what makes Italy so unique. There isn't just one region, except for Puglia, that stands out when discussing the rosé wines from Italy. Many regions produce rosé in different styles from different grapes. There are hundreds of native Italian grapes and so the challenge continues in understanding Italian wines. Below is a list of just some rosé wines found from a variety of different regions in Italy, but of course you'll also see wine producers making rosé from other grapes as well. This is just to give you an idea of some rosé produced throughout Italy.
Puglia ~ Some of the best rosé produced in Italy comes from Puglia, in particular from the area of Salento. Rosé wines in Puglia may be produced from the Negro Amaro, Primitivo or Aglianico grapes.
Abruzzo ~ Rosé in Abruzzo is known as Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo and is produced from the Montepulciano grape.
Valle d'Aosta ~ Rosé in the Valle d'Aosta is made from the Premetta grapes.
Sicily ~ Rosé wines in Sicily can be made from the Frappato, Nerello Mascalese or Nerello Cappuccio or even Nero d'Avola grapes.
Alto Adige ~ A fuller style rose' produced in Alto Adige you may find from the Lagrein grape.
Veneto/Lombardia ~ Rosé from these two regions can be found around Lake Garda, but where near Lake Garda exactly determines the grapes. It may be from the Marzemino or Corvina grapes, but most popular of all is the Bardolino Chiaretto.
Rosé is a very versatile wine, but what you pair it with depends on what country you are purchasing the wine from and whether it's light, crisp and dry or full-bodied with richer fruit. Don't be afraid to pair it with many dishes as you may be surprised as to how well it compliments the dish, but also don't be afraid to ask the wine salesperson their recommendations based on the style you're purchasing. There are lots of options when it comes to rosé, which makes it part of the fun of experimenting with.
Rosé wines aren't typically ones you'll want to hold onto either. I'd recommend drinking them within a year of production. The fresher the better. It's not a wine you'll want to store that will get better with age typically. So make sure to play around with some rosé and have fun! Make sure it's slightly chilled beforehand, grab a glass and you're good to go.