Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Rosé colored glasses ~ Part 2

According to the Champagne Bible, Rosé or Pink Champagne was first made in 1775 by Veuve Clicquot. The rosé style began as a wedding wine, if you believe the popular myths and legends, created to match the pink often worn by bridesmaids at Royal weddings.

Don't you just love this gown?
Less than five percent of Champagne produced is rosé, perhaps that's because there isn't as much demand for the pink bubbly, or it could be that it's a difficult and delicate technique, and more costly to undertake. 

The classic blend for a golden Champagne is Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. (Sparkling wine made in the United States is - generally - Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, with very little Pinot Meunier ever seeing the inside of America's wineries.) The juice is gently pressed from the grapes, then a regular fermentation process is performed. After fermentation, the wine is blended - sometimes with up to 80 different cuvées (base wines), then bottled with what the French refer to as liqueur de tirages, a bit of sugar and yeast. The wine is capped with a closure similar to a beer or soda cap then laid to rest, and age, in cool, dark caves. Slowly the wine is upturned, or riddled, to move the lees (yeast and sediment) towards the neck of the bottle. When the time is right, the bottle is immersed in a briny solution that causes quick freezing of the sediment, the caps are dislodged and the frozen plug shoots from the bottle. Before the bottle is corked, it's topped off with dosage, a small amount of the original base wine and a bit of sugar.

A recently disgorged ice-plug.
There are a few additional processes involved when making a rosé Champagne, making it a bit more expensive than its golden cousins. There are two ways of making a rosé. The first, is to blend red wine into the base cuvée before the secondary fermentation, the second method involves Saignée, a short period of contact between the red grape skins and the must (juice). Either method leaves much room for error and an expert hand is needed to prevent the wine from turning orange or brown.

The color of a rosé runs from a light salmon tint, to a deeper, richer, berry-licious looking pink.

At this time of year the sales of rosé skyrocket due to the it's association with romance and Valentine's Day celebrations.

Yet, just as bubbly of any kind shouldn't be relegated just to celebratory occasions, rosé shouldn't be tethered just to Valentine's Day either. 
There is, perhaps, not another wine that is more aptly suited to food than a delicious rosé sparkling wine or Champagne. The bright fruit, the level of acidity, and the amount of tannins from the red grape skins, all combine to create the perfect storm of food and wine pairings. After all, a rosé is both red, and white, enabling it to pair with everything from berry compote and strawberry cheesecake, to smoked ham, salmon and lobster.

Here are a few of my all-time favorite rosé sparklers:


Nicky F (Nicolas Feuillatte)

Piper Sauvage`

Find them ~ Buy them ~ Try them ~ Love them!
Salud! KathyD

Here's to looking at the world through rosé colored glasses!

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