Drinking Pink – Rosé

~ by Jenny Benzie, Advanced Sommelier + Certified Wine Educator, Proprietress of Épernay Wine & Spirits ~

Summer on Nantucket has become synonymous with drinking rosé wine. On the boat, at the beach, sipping it waterfront with breakfast, lunch or dinner are just a few occasions where one can be caught with a full glass of pink pleasure in their hand. With such variety and spice among all the new, unique rosé selections available these days, drinking pink is now acceptable throughout the year. Which rosé wine you choose to drink, however, should change with the season just like your other eating and drinking habits do.

As Nantucket’s summer season is winding down, this is the perfect time to transition into enjoying a different style of rosé than the light, refreshing one you would imbibe during the dog days of summertime. In celebration of Labor Day, here is a selection of tried-and-true American-made rosés worthy of consideration and reflection this holiday weekend.

The best of rosés during this time of year are those that are intentionally made and not just produced as an afterthought. There are several ways to make a rosé wine. The first is the blending of white and red wine together, which is allowable for Champagne, but not other wines from Europe and rarely used as a practice here in the United States. Another method is referred to as saignée, in which the juice from fermenting red wine is bled off to make the rosé. In this instance, the resulting rosé is often times a byproduct of other winemaking endeavors where the wine left remaining macerating with the skins is made into a more concentrated red wine. The most authentic way to make the purest style of rose is by a brief maceration of the skin and juice, then a direct pressing just as you would for any other wine, making it a true labor of love.

Robert Sinksey Vineyards Vin Gris Rosé of Pinot Noir, Los Carneros of Napa Valley 2015 is just that, a very intentionally crafted rosé. Rob and Maria Helm Sinskey, regular luminaries at Nantucket Wine Fest, started making rosé well before it was considered cool and hip. They were inspired by the classically delicate, European pink wines they found on their travels that were made with a sense of purpose and precision. Thus they wanted to create a wine to be enjoyed with lunch or an afternoon snack that was crisp, refreshing, and pleasurable for that type of setting.

This beautiful 100% Pinot Noir wine has aromas of macerated berried with flavors of fresh peaches and apricot, followed by well-integrated lively citrus notes. The wine is vibrant and complex, calling for a morsel of food in order to complete the full equation. The Sinskeys believe that the style of wine they produce excels at the dinner table and that wine should be considered as part of an overall culinary experience. Simply, yet eloquently stated, “Wine is a craft that begins with the care of the soil and ends with an open bottle of wine on the table.” It is paired best appropriate local foods that are a purist expression of where they originate, such as a feast made from the bounty of locally harvested vegetables and the fresh catch of the day from our local waters.

Creating memorable food and wine pairings such as these isn’t about doing it all on your own and neither is the winemaking process. It all starts from the ground up, with the help of Mother Nature and what she has to offer in the soil, along with weather patterns that affect the harvest and the helpful hands that bring the grapevines to fruition. Winemaking is a collaboration of many parts throughout the entire process.

This is evident in Barrymore Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir, Monterey 2015. Drew Barrymore, American actress, author, producer, mom, and frequent visitor to Nantucket, is all about the journey in the many different ventures that she leads. She choose to work with well-established Carmel Road Winery located in Monterey, CA, to bring together two family-owned companies both with deep roots in California in order to create a wine to share with her family and friends.

Choosing which rosé to drink when going from warm days on the beach to cool nights in your favorite sweatshirt couldn’t be easier with this wine. This rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir is an ideal transition into the end of summer rosé drinking pleasures as it offers slightly more concentrated fresh flavors of red fruits than a wine from Côtes de Provence, yet still has the bright acidity we love from our summer selections. Better yet, let the laughter and fun continue by pairing this wine with your favorite take-out sushi.

On another spectrum, sometimes you must go to the extremes in order to create the perfect expression of wine from an unusual vineyard source. Flowers Pinot Noir Rosé, Sonoma Coast 2015 comes from the extreme Sonoma Coast, just two miles as the crow flies from the rugged Pacific Coast cliffs at almost 2,000 feet elevation. Here the vineyard is able to benefit from the maritime breezes and the coastal fog (think Nantucket) during the heat of summer that affects other California vineyards further inland. This allows the grapes to ripen fully and create fresh flavors with natural acidity and a hint of distinct coastal minerality.

This 100% Pinot Noir rosé is made to be just that, a rosé and not a red wine. It has that brilliant, coral-salmon hue that marks it authenticity of production. Aromas of white nectarine and wild strawberry lead to a mouthful of balanced fruit and texture with a touch of salinity from the coastal influence. The wine is gently whole cluster pressed, let to settle in stainless steel, then aged in a combination of stainless steel, neutral and two year old French oak barrels.

What makes this rosé wine worthy of attention here is that because of its vineyard sourcing and maturation, it is a wine that offers structure and layers that will allow it to age and drinks beautifully after some time to settle in the bottle. That time is now and the occasion is to reap and celebrate the benefits of being on-island this time of year.

The notion of pairing these favorite newfound rosé wines with our local end-of-season bounty helps to ease the transition out of summer mode and into the more relaxing days of September ahead.