John Brown has been a wine and food columnist in West Virginia since the 1980’s. His regular columns appear in the Charleston (WV) Gazette-Mail under the title Vines & Vittles and in The State Journal - a statewide business weekly

Rose': Just the tonic for springtime meals

Springtime is such a weather rollercoaster ride that it is hard to decide which type of food suits the season.  And of course that determination precipitates the most important decision:  which wine to use with the meal.  

Since it is looking more and more like we have seen the last of the little white flakes, I’ve been morphing from big reds to lighter style reds and whites that pair exceptionally well with traditional springtime  fare such as pesto-pasta, grilled chicken and all manner of seafood.

   Spring is the official start of the outdoor grilling season and I am excited by the prospects of searing all manner of meats and veggies on my trusty old Weber charcoal grill. One of the easiest meals to prepare on your grill is sausage and, whether you prefer Italian, Polish, Bratwurst or some other pork-encased tube steak, I’ve got the perfect wine to match this all-American meal:  rose’. Now some of you may have a jaundiced view of this (sometimes) pink wine, harkening back to a time when rose was bottled in heavy clay-like crocks (remember Lancers?) and tasted like spritzy cherry soda. Or you may think of rose’ as a sweet white zinfandel type wine.  Well, if these are your impressions, Forgetaboutit !

Today, rose’ is made in just about every fine wine region using just about every red grape imaginable from cabernet sauvignon to carignan and from pinot noir to mourvedre.  And, while there are many slightly sweet aperitif roses, there are even more that are produced to accompany food.

I’m going to tell you about four of my favorites that are available at a fine wine shop near you and I can guarantee that they will be especially excellent matches to grilled sausages and even burgers or baby back ribs. Each of these wines is classically dry, but all have great fruit and a smooth finish. 2010 Grange Philippe “Gipsy” Rose ($14) - This wine from France (region unknown since it is labeled “Vin de Pays” meaning country wine) is a blend of syrah and grenache. Raspberry aromas give way to flavors of spice, cinnamon and cherries. You also might pair this rose’ with spicy Asian cuisine.   2010 Chateau Routas ($16) - From the center of Provence, this is a blend of cinsault, syrah, grenache and cabernet sauvignon that is about as complex as any rose’ I’ve had the pleasure of sipping. Flavors of strawberries and cola are smooth and the finish lasts a long, long time. 2010 Domaine Fontsainte Gris de Gris ($16) - Like its name, this is a mouthful of wine for a rose’. Salmon–colored with flavors of minerals, spice, berries and even pineapple, the wine can certainly stand up to sausages and sauces that have a kick. 2009 Banfi Centine Rose ($13) – Here’s a rose’ that is a blend of sangiovese, cabernet sauvignon and merlot from Tuscany that has aromas of freshly mown hay and leather.  It is pale orange in color and has flavors of dried cherries and spice that leave a lingering dry finish.

So, go out and grab a bottle of rose’ for those spring time meals or just crack open a bottle while you’re on the porch contemplating yard work. Contemplation takes time, you know.

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