Rosé Wine, Really?
by. S.W. Kirch
Absolutely. Many people – from the Millennial to the middle-aged man – are excited about rosé wine. There are even several hashtags surrounding the vibrant movement from #YesWay,Rosé!, which has inspired an entire assortment of fashion accessories, to #Brosé, which encourages men to enjoy rosé with friends, without second-guessing it.
According to native Frenchman, and co-owner of the French Alpine Bistro – Crêperie du Village, Raphael Derly, “Rosé is the French water.” Originally from Marseille – the epicenter of the Provence region, where rosé reigns king – Derly’s landsmen agree with him, and refer to it as, “vin de soif”, a “wine to quench thirst”. With a lower alcohol content compared to most wines, these complex, dry drinks can easily be enjoyed headache-free on a hot summer day, or offered as an apéritif. Of course, in America, rosé wines spent more than a half a century, from the mid-1940’s to the 1990’s, being looked down upon as sweet, cheap byproducts of red wines. This, thankfully, is no longer the case.
Ask A Frenchman:
An Interview with Raphael Derly
Q: Does everyone in France drink rosé wine?
A: “Everybody drinks rosé in France in the summer! It’s the ultimate wine to share with friends and family especially for an apéritif, which isn’t just a drink before dinner; it is an experience! You get together in the late afternoon or early evening hours and start to share: hors d’oeuvres, stories, jokes, your day, your life. Karin (my business partner) and I want to show anyone who visits our restaurant the French joie de vivre! After all, life is not just about activity, is it? You might want to hike up Ajax mountain, but what about rewarding yourself afterwards? I think everyone could benefit from taking more time to reflect, watch the world go by and just be.”
Q: The color of rosé tends to make some American men uncomfortable. Why do you think this is?
A: “Truly, this I do not understand! It is only this color because of how rosé is made. It is also the color of summer when nature is at her most beautiful. Do American men like sunsets? I think that, yes, they do – those are the same colors as the rosés. Once they try it, then, they will understand. For us, rosé wine in the summer is maybe like a cold beer at a BBQ for Americans – it is during this that you make and remember good times.”
Q: Are there certain grapes used to make rosé?
A: “To make a rosé, you can use the red, purple or even the black grape, but there are some grapes that are very special for rosé: Cinsault, Grenache and Pinot Noir. In Provence we take making rosé very seriously, and we even have the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé (The Center for Rosé Research). Also, rosé tastes best if you drink it when it is young – only one or two years old.”
Q: Are rosé wines even high-quality wines?
A: “Of course! But, Americans often don’t understand rosé, because they started drinking low quality, sweet rosé wine from Portugal in the 1940s, and then in the 1970s, one from a California winery: White Zinfandel. They used a method called saignée – which in French means to bleed. This resulted in sweetened wines that were nothing like the high quality rosé wines we know today. In Provence, the only good method is called maceration. This way, you lightly crush the grapes, and let the juice sit on the skins for a few hours, or days – depending on the color. Then, the juice is vinified like a crisp, dry white wine. Another way of making rosé is the blending of red and white wines. In France, however, this is only allowed for rosé Champagnes.”
No Need to Blush
Come enjoy the rosé renaissance; just head over to Hopkins Ave., find a sunny spot on the patio of Aspen’s only authentic French Alpine Bistro – Crêperie du Village – and sip a glass (or two) of the famous Whispering Angel, described by Anthony Dias Blue (The Tasting Panel) as, “Dense and rich with lovely texture”. Maybe another day, come back with friends or family to share a bottle of Château Puech-Haut Prestige Rosé, which comes in a beautiful, frosted decanter with a glass top. Dive into the rosé culture by adding ice to your glass, and enjoy it the ancient, Greek (i.e.-original) way – diluted.
To encourage guests to experience all that rosé wine has to offer, the French Alpine Bistro will be offering 50% off all bottles of rosé wines during apéritif from 3:00-6:00 p.m. during the summer together with 50% off selected food items. In the words of sommelier Victoria James, “Rosé is exactly what the wine world needed: an unpretentious but delicious option.” In a world of ever-increasing busy-ness and choices, it’s a relief to find something unfussy in life: Cheers to Rosé!