Rosé: More than a Summer Drink

26 centuries ago, when the Greeks founded a colony in Marseille, the winegrowing culture was introduced in Provence. These wines were light in color very similar to rosé.  It is thought that they weren’t really trying for rosé per se, it was that the technology of maceration on the grape skins was either not known or in very limited use. It is for this reason that Provence is considered the oldest winegrowing region in France, and the first wines to be made were Rosés.

True rosé is made from red grapes. The color comes from the anthocyanins (natural pigments) found in the skin. The quality of the wine depends on several things including the type and quality of the grapes, the temperature within the vat and finally the length of time the grape juice remains in contact with the skins.  The longer the juice remains in contact, the darker the wine will be. For a comparison, rosé wine may remain in contact for a mere few hours, while red wine stays in contact for days. This wine making process is known as maceration. Rose-Barometer

There are three other processes that rosés could be made.  Presse is slightly different from maceration in that the winemaker will press the red grapes until the juice reaches the desired color, and then it is immediately removed to be fermented separately.  Saignée, also known as bleeding, is a process where the winemaker removes some of the juice from a red wine vat.  In this case, the winemaker may pile grapes on top of each other and use their natural weight to crush the bottom fruit, thereby releasing the juice.  Finally, rosé can be made by simple blending.  The winemaker may choose to just blend red and white wine together to create the desired  rosé color.  (this is different from blending for flavor)

There are many rosés to choose from that are sparkling or still, and that range from sweet to bone dry.  Typically speaking, rosés should be consumed within a few years of being produced (as it is not made for aging), and are served chilled. Although rosé has been increasing in popularity over the past years with such trends as “Think Pink” “Real Men Drink Pink” and my favorite “Yes you can drink rosé and still be a BadAss,” Mike and I have not exactly jumped on the bandwagon.  So when our friends at Singapore Wine Vault contacted me asking if they could do a guest blog on rosé and food pairing, I thought it was a great idea.  Having never been involved with guest blogging, I was a little hesitant, but after reading their post, my doubts were alleviated.  I hope you enjoy their post as much as I did. 

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Living La Vie en Rosé: Pairing Rosé with Asian Cuisine

Though the rosé is often relegated as a summer drink, a fun and light aperitif for dinner parties, and the standard introduction to a bigger, bolder red or zestier white wine, we find it to be rather underutilized as a table wine. Sure, wine enthusiasts love pairing this pink tipple with their hors d’ouerves, their bouillabaisse, and their cheese and antipasti, but few actually consider choosing rosé for the main course. It’s a shame. Rosés can really work wonders in bringing out the flavors and the textural elements of a dish.

Much like its red counterpart, rosé wine comes in a myriad of styles. On one end, you have the dry and savory tipples like Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Tavel. While on the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the sweet and fruit-forward rosés like Grenache, Zinfandel, Sangiovese, Provence, and Mourvèdre. Beyond these basic descriptions, these wines also offer an extraordinary wealth of nuances in terms of texture, flavor, and mouthfeel. These elements make each and every one of these wines absolutely unique. The versatility that comes with variety also allows for multiple pairings of rosés with various Asian dishes.

Now, Asian food is known for its complex combination of bold flavors. We’re talking sweet, spicy, bitter, sour, and salty, all in one dish. These contrasting flavors make it challenging to pick a single wine for an entire spread. At Singapore Wine Vault, it’s our job to help you narrow down your choice of rosé for a particular Asian cuisine. We’ve divided the following sections according to some of the most common Asian cuisines and dishes you’ll find in Europe and the United States.

Indian Cuisine

Spicy, highly aromatic, and intense—these are just some of the most common adjectives used to describe traditional Indian food. Whether we’re talking biryani, korma, kofta, masala, or curry, you can expect powerful flavors to singe your tongue and entice your palate. For this very reason, Indian food is usually paired with a yogurt-based drink called Lassi. The drink acts as a way to help reduce the heat while bringing out the underlying sweetness and saltiness of a dish.

What we’ve discovered is that certain fruit-forward rosés can have the same tongue-soothing effects as the Lassi. For example, a fruity Grenache rosé, with its hints of hibiscus and ripe strawberries, can temper the piquancy of a fiery dish without overpowering the rest of the delicacy’s strong flavors.  A dry Grenache or Sangiovese rosé can also accentuate the textural elements of a coconut- or yogurt-based dish. If you favor Italian reds, then a Montepulciano rosé should complement Chicken Korma beautifully.

Now, if you’re faced with a particularly piquant, curry-based delicacy like Lamb or Beef Vindaloo, another option is to go for a more savory rosé. A Syrah or a Cabernet Sauvignon rosé should do the trick. These wines are rich enough to stand toe-to-toe with highly spicy dishes. Their peppery and meaty undertones also add to the robust flavors of a meaty fare.

Japanese Cuisine

Japanese cuisine is a tantalizing mix of the extremely fresh, (think sushi- and sashimi-levels fresh), and the wonderfully savory, (think tempuras, yakitoris, and teppans). To address the wide breadth of flavors that you’ll find in this particular cuisine, we recommend two types of rosés—the crisp and dry, and the meaty and full-bodied.

To enhance the mild acidity and underlying sweetness of sushi and sashimi, go for a light Provençal or champagne rosé. The delicate and crisp nature of these wines will enhance the freshness of these fares while cleansing your palate with every sip. Surprisingly, these light and dry wines can also help balance the saltiness of tempura.

For meatier and more flavorful dishes like teppan (steak), yakitori, and tuna sashimi, you can achieve a better balance of flavors with full-bodied rosés. Raw beef tataki, in particular, goes extremely well with a glass of Tavel. While maguro or tuna sashimi gets the star treatment with an Australian Syrah or Provençal Bandol rosé.

Chinese Cuisine

Like the cuisine of neighboring Japan, Chinese food can be divided into two main groups—the mild and starchy, (dimsums, steamed buns, and pulled noodles), and the spice-driven and savory, (Mapo tofu, Peking duck, and Gong Bao chicken).

For food that’s milder on flavor like dumplings and steamed buns, you can afford to go luxurious with a sparkling rosé. Rosé champagne, in particular, is always a good way to highlight the flavors of these dishes. The effervescence of these tipples can also add textural contrast to these perennially soft and steamed delicacies. If, however, you’re planning on using an assortment of dips with your dimsum—soy sauce, chili, and the works—we recommend going for dry rosés like Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Carignan, and Grenache.

Now, if you’re looking at a menu that’s filled with flavorsome fares, think Gong Bao Chicken and Peking duck, the way to go is with a rosé that’s fruity and bright on acidity. A Sangiovese, Grenache, or Pinot Noir rosé can help keep your palate clean while complementing the myriad of flavors in these piquant dishes.

Korean Cuisine

Flavorful is a good word to describe Korean cuisine. From the pungent kimchi to the scrumptious gogigui like bulgogi, you can expect Korean food to be delectably rich in terms of flavors and textures. Like Indian cuisine, Korean cooking tends to be more on the spicy side of the taste spectrum.

Generally speaking, you can pair practically any Korean dish with a fresh and crisp rosé. The minerality and leanness of a Provençal blend of Cinsault, Grenache, and Mourvèdre, makes it an excellent candidate for any gogigui dish. But, if you really want something that can temper the strong flavors of a pungent dish like kimchi, your best recourse is to go for a fruitier rosé, like Zinfandel or Sangiovese.

Vietnamese Cuisine

When it comes to Vietnamese cuisine, there is a special emphasis placed on freshness. The country’s local fares use a plethora of herbs and spices like mint, cilantro, cloves, and cinnamon, to balance out the piquant elements of a dish. Fish sauce, ginger, vinegar, and peanut sauce add to that dash of savory goodness that you’ll find even in the mildest of phos and spring rolls.

Now, when pairing Vietnamese food with wine, we recommend going for a sparkling or dry rosé. A light and dry rosé, (think Pinot Noir, Provençal blend, and Bardolino Chiaretto), goes well with salads, fried spring rolls, and banh mi. While rosé champagne enhances the flavors of savory fares like black pepper pork banh mi and grilled seafood.

Do your taste buds a favor. The next time you’re in the mood for Asian food, think pink! With the right rosé, you can turn the simplest of meals into the ultimate dining experience.

Singapore Wine Vault is the largest Southeast Asian wine storage facility. With its state-of-the-art wine cellars, it’s the ideal home for your liquid assets.

~Sláinte

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