Rosé is underrated. It’s the perfect holiday drinkby Barry Smith / June 22, 2011 / Leave a comment
Published in July 2011 issue of Prospect Magazine
One of the great pleasures in life is sitting on the Côte d’Azur, staring at a shimmering sea, while eating fruits de mer and sipping a delicate rosé from a perfectly chilled bottle. In moments like these the experience of wine can reach fabulous heights. So why is drinking a bottle of the same wine at home on a cold, grey evening disappointing? Is it that the wine doesn’t travel? That may have been true once, but wine-making techniques have improved and, besides, why would rosés alone suffer this fate? Perhaps it’s because we are not drinking good enough rosé. But that doesn’t explain why it tasted so delicious au bord de la mer. This is what I call the Provençal rosé paradox.
The answer is to recognise how much context contributes to enjoyment: the sun, the sea, the salty mouthfuls of squid offset by flavours of peach and grenadine in the wine, and the condensation-frosted bottle in the ice bucket with its pale, coral colour. Then there is the pleasure of sharing it with another. The hedonic rush was not due to the wine alone, and it cannot serve later to re-create the experience as a whole. But nor should it. Rosé can be enjoyed for its own sake and not just as the accompaniment to sybaritic days.
The “mere accompaniment” view of rosé comes from its reputation as the poor relation of the wine world. Yet it is a difficult wine to make. It takes skill to leave the pressed grape juice in contact with the skins just long enough to bleed colour and impart flavour. Views differ on how long that contact should be, and so we see everything from the cherry pink and Campari-like red of Spanish Rosado and Italian Rosato, to the pale salmon pink or onion skin colour of Provençal rosés.