Summer is in full swing and everyone is enjoying island life in a big way. Newport is a city of events and there are a lot of happenings, and a lot of names here. It is time to enjoy the special restaurants that we are very fortunate to have.
Having said that, while we’re out doing whatever it is, summer drinks for adults come to mind. For me, the usual suspects are sauvignon blanc, white burgundy, cold wine, sparkling wine, and rose. I always promote those in the Provence region of France because, in my opinion, they are the standards that all roses stick to, especially those in the Bandol sub-region of Provence. But, with the consuming public finally accepting Rosé wines, wineries around the world are joining the shopping cart. For years, Italians have been making rosa, other regions of France have made great rosés, and Spain creates rosado just to name a few in other regions that make this very popular style of wine. The United States has been inundated with sweet roses for years from Portugal, and then came the white zinfandel, a blush wine. But the Americans graduated happily.
So why gravity? Rosé is a French word meaning pink or pink. For me, that’s the number one attraction, it’s the color. It just symbolizes summer – pink flowers, pink clothes and salmon fish abound. Rosé is usually made from red grapes, but due to the way they are made, they don’t have the body and character of regular red wine, hence the rose pattern is a lighter body, which we look for in summer. They also tend to be lower in alcohol, have good acidity, and give off summery aromas like rose petals, strawberries, and raspberries, rather than earthy.
Rosie pairs food
Back to color. There are many roses that are darker in color, not your usual pale or salmon color and there is no reason to avoid them at all. With our willingness to try different styles of wine, it should be included in your experiences! As for food pairings, they do well with our crustaceans and many of our finned fish that we enjoy, such as cod, sole, and bass. With meat, since these wines aren’t as structured as typical red wines, they won’t hold up either with red meat or sausage but white meat certainly works. Cheeses, which are also popular now and rose pairs well with smaller, fluffy cheeses, not the old strong cheeses. Many of our Mexican dishes that appear on many restaurant menus will pair with these wines as well.
Rosie Picks from California, Oregon
I’ve previously mentioned several regions that have been making roses for years, and I want to move to two regions in the US, California and Oregon that are seriously making them to catch up. I also want to focus on roses made with Pinot Noir, my favorite red wine, and how these Pinot Noir producers joined these roses. I chose to suggest a few from each state that I think everyone will enjoy.
Toad Hollow of Sonoma had been making the rose long before the boom, and they buy or buy Pinot noir grapes from top sparkling wine producers. “Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé” is a great one to choose from at about $15. It checks many boxes for me—the perfect color, made with Pinot Noir, shows off plenty of summer scents, 10.2% alcohol and a whimsical label to boot. Next, I would suggest Etude, a very popular Pinot noir product from the Carneros region of Napa Valley. This wine again makes me happy. Aromas of strawberry, raspberry, and cherry blossom on the nose emphasized the palate, nice color, dry, good acidity and higher than I like 13.2% alcohol, but I can handle it for about $19.
Moving to Oregon, a fairly popular brand is Elouan. Oregon’s Pinot noir is a little different from California, they don’t tend to be like the California fruit, a bit more austere, and they come closer to the French style. However, Oregon grows great Pinot Noir, and Elouan packaging again checks the boxes – color, fruit aroma, dryness, acidity, 12.9% alcohol and should cost about $19 too. Erath is one of my favorite wineries in Oregon, and they also make a wonderful rose with a delicate color, dry and fragrant fruit flavors like peach and watermelon, good acidity, 13.5% alcohol and should cost about $15.
As you can see, there is a visual attraction to these wines, they are all reasonably priced and readily available. They all work with many of the foods we have from land and sea. And it should be enjoyed all year round, not just in summer.
PSAs of the month: A trip to the Newport Vineyards
Instead of reviewing the usual issues faced by the hospitality industry, I’d still like to share a dry rose from my recent pinot noir experience with everyone. It wasn’t in Sonoma or Napa but up the street on the Newport Vineyards. Went to the vineyard for dinner, yes to eat. The gentleman at the door greeted me happily and was immediately taken to my table overlooking the vineyards. I had a wonderful waitress, and I ordered a cup of dry rose from Pinot Noir – it was fun – and the experience went on. We had a cheese board, charcuterie and sandwiches all paired well. The GM stopped by and chatted with us, and the chef served us some specials, it was almost surreal. We finished our culinary journey with a glass of Vineyard Pils, a Bavarian style beer, had to try at least one beer from their Tap Root Brewery, and culminated in a great time. The staff was very friendly and smiling! I have been to Napa and Sonoma many times and have had similar experiences to the ones we just had, and I would encourage everyone to do the same, right on the street.
Len Panaggio is a wine consultant and former beverage director for Newport Harbor Corp. Send feedback and suggestions to [email protected] The Wine Press runs each month in The Daily News and online at newportri.com.