Each month when Food & Wine magazine arrives at my desk, I look forward to reading Ray Isle's latest article. As the deputy wine editor for the glossy, Isle writes interesting wine-related stories, recommends affordable pours, and pairs each of the recipes with an excellent variety. In short, he's incredibly knowledge in the world of wine. What I like best about Ray is his kind approachability: he doesn't have an ounce of wine snob in him. I was lucky enough to sit down with Ray on a warm afternoon at the Classic in Aspen and chat about one of the wine industry's hottest trends: Rosé.
To find out what Ray had to say about the pink wines you should be drinking,
Before we could get started, Ray explained that there are two ways to make Rose. The traditional French method, known as saignée, employs red grapes. The juice soaks in the skins, but before the liquid turns into red wine, it is bled off. This pink juice is turned into Rosé. The second technique makes Rosé by simply mixing already-made red and white wines.
PartySugar: What happened to Rosé? How come it has such a bad rap?
Ray Isle: White zinfandel killed the image of dry Rosés. People didn't like the overly sweet white zin and any pink wine got lumped in with it.
PS: And why are we seeing a renaissance of Rosé now?
RI: Wine education is changing the way people drink wine. More and more people are becoming educated on wine. Before they didn't know that there was a category of really good dry Rosé, but now they do.
PS: Let's talk about the recent debate on Rosé production in Europe. Where do you stand?
RI: While it's typically cheaper for a wine maker to blend them, the quality of wine is inferior. They just don't taste as good as the wines made in the saignée method. I think the classical producers were right to stand up for their tradition.
PS: When shopping for Rosé what should one look for?
RI: First, don't spend more than $20. There are plenty of really great affordable Rosés out there. Look to a classic region like the South of France. The bottles don't have to say how the Rosé is made, so to ensure you get one made with the saignée method, it's best to look to a well-known region. For fruitier and richer Rosés select one from Spain or California. Etude's Pinot Noir Rosé is a great bottle and so is the Clos du Bois Rosé.
PS: Can one pair Rosé with food?
RI: Rosé is quite possibly the most food friendly variety of wine. Because it takes characteristics from both red (the fruit) and white (the acidity and lighter body) varieties, it's very easy to pair with food. Rosés cross both boundaries and can pair with anything from sushi to roast chicken. Remember Rosés are a great outdoor picnic or party wine. Serve it cool, like you would a white wine.