VineBox: 9 Things We Need to Know About Rosé
by Sommelier Tyler Kennedy
There is always something new to learn about wine— and the best way to learn is through experience, right? While nothing sounds quite like spending the next few years wine tasting your way around the world, Vinebox’s fresh take on a wine membership club is prepared to bring the tastes of small European vineyards straight to your doorstep (in the case that you can’t drop everything to find your inner sommelier). Vinebox is a wine-by-the-glass subscription service perfect for those looking to expand their palate without investing in large quantities. The membership club starts at 25 dollars per month, increasing with the option to double up on your order, and includes a handpicked set of three different wine varieties per month— each in a 10cl single glass serving. Emphasizing quality over quantity, Vinebox ensures that their wines avoid contact with oxygen by using a closed-nitrogen environment as well as the use of inert gas. The final delivery includes beautifully packaged wines in sizable glass cylinders, with each glass accompanied by tasting notes, pairings and recommendations. All in a not-too-much, not-too-little serving size, Vinebox makes venturing from your go-to choice of bottle, worthwhile.
Given the fact that VineBox only offers Rosé boxes seasonally, we asked their Sommelier Tyler Kennedy to help us out and provide insight on the topic of Rosé, because, #roseallday, 24/7. 365. Pink.
1. It’s made from black (red wine) grapes
Sorry, but your next trip to Napa or Sonoma or the south of France is going to be a touch disappointing if you’re expecting to find vines full of luscious salmon colored grapes. Instead, you’ll find the typical dusty looking black grapes of old. Rosé is made from the same grapes that make your favorite red wines, they just macerate or linger with the pressed juice for much less time when your desired outcome is the pink drink.
2. Not all rosés are created equal
There are three different methods for making the pink drink. The most popular is to start out making wine with red wine grapes just like you were planning on making a red wine, but halting maceration (contact with the grapes’ skins after they’re juiced) after a few hours instead of a few weeks. Other methods involve blending red and white wines together or bleeding juice off the red wine to separately vinify into rosé. We’ll get into those below.
3. Champagne gets a pass
One of those other ways hinted above is frowned upon widely by the winemaking world, but not so in Champagne, King of All Bubbles. Only three grapes are permitted in Champagne wines, and two of them are red wine grapes. Producers either vinify those two grapes, Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier, without much skin contact to make Brut wines, or they make what’s called a “Champagne red wine” that’s exceedingly dry, tart and less akin to its normal namesake. Then you take your base white made from Chardonnay, blend in a little (about 5-20%) “Champagne Red Wine” and BOOM! Rosé Champagne. Not all sparkling rosé wines are made this way, however.
4. Rosé was a … byproduct?
Alright, don’t take this the wrong way. But originally the light pink juice used to make summer water was a direct byproduct of red winemaking via a process called saignée. French for bled, saignée allows you to concentrate your red wine by bleeding out some juice from the bottom of the vat, therefore, increasing the skin to juice ratio. Back in the day the winemakers would vinify the bled juice and sell it off to be bottled into some non-descript blush wine. Nowadays most winemakers grow red grapes specifically to make quality rosé with a sense of place or terroir, but occasionally, you’ll find a small, cult producer making some gnarly awesome saignée rosé.
5. Celebrities have already boarded the bandwagon
It didn’t take long for celebrities to catch wind of the growing trend in carnation colored quaffers. Old school power-couple-turned-perennial-tabloid-stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie first leased and then purchased Château Miraval in Provence in 2008 as a place to birth their twins. The wines are much more consistent than their owners’ relationships.
6. DRY is the word you’re looking for
When describing to your bartender or local shop keep your preferences in rosé, the word you’re looking for is dry. That means it’s not sweet, as in there’s not enormous amounts of residual sugar in the glass and typically involves alcohol levels above or around 11 percent. Dry rosé is still fruity as all get out. But the minute a pink wine goes officially sweet it’s a cloying dessert type drink that’s better cut with soda water or reserved for the more novice drinkers. Start with dry as a descriptor and then move onto more specific terms like citrusy, floral, minerally or even savory.
7. Rosé Season: July 1st – June 30th
Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s an inappropriate time to drink rosé. Those types of people are negative influences that, frankly, you don’t need in your life.You do you. 24/7. 365. Pink.
8. Don’t sleep on it, drink it now!
Rosé is released by the winery when they believe it is ready to be consumed. If it’s from 2016, it’s fine; these wines are not made to be laid down to age. On that same note if you see a rosé with a few years on it, ask your local expert if it’s the current vintage and if it is, drink it! Winemakers are smart enough to know that if the bottle needs to rest for two years before it’s at peak drinking condition, then they’ll simply hold onto it rather than risk you drinking it prematurely.
9. Do not be ashamed, rosé based cocktails are allowed
I’ll be the first one to call someone out for placing an ice cube in their glass, or a splash of soda water or a slice of citrus. There are wines for that, and they’re called rosés. Inexpensive Provence rosé over crushed ice with smashed berries or citrus and a sprig of rosemary is divine. Mix in a little cordial or brandy, and you’re on your way to a really good time.
Whether rosé, red or white, selecting the perfect wine pairing for tonight’s dinner (or something that goes well with popcorn and Netflix) is hardly an easy feat. Truly delving into the realm of vino can be an overwhelming investment of time and money— except perhaps, when exquisite tastes from a diverse array of regions are delivered to your doorstep to be sampled by the glass. We’ll cheers to that.