Once upon a time there was a little wine with a giant stigma attached to it; that wine was the lovely little pink Rosé. Thanks to that cloyingly sweet pink wine, the White Zinfandel, the Rosé seemed to get a bad rap in the US and particularly here in Santa Barbara. Thankfully, as the Rhone varietals flourished on the central coast, and the wineries became some of the top contenders in the wine industry, knowledge grew of the bright, crisp, dry, and complex world of French Provencal style Rosés.
These Rosés are primarily made from red wine grapes, although some Rosés may be made with a blend of white and red wine grapes. Depending on the grape or grape blend used, the characteristics of the wine changes. Many of the Santa Barbara Rosés are made from Pinot Noir, Syrah, Mouvrede, Cinsault, or Grenache gapes. The grapes are pressed and fermented with the skins for a bit, and then the skins are removed and, in most cases, the wine further processed in stainless steel barrels, similar to the process used in creating steely white wines. This leaves a wine with the complexity and fruit from a red wine, with the lightness and brightness of a white wine, and with the slight hint of a pink color. The longer the skins remain in the fermentation process, the darker the color of the wine. So, you will find Rosés that range from the slightly salmon pink hue (a la the Provencal Rosés) to a deep, yet, clear burgundy hue.
The true beauty of these Rosés, though, is that they are easy to pair with so many foods, from simple goat cheese and fig appetizers, to being the quintessential wine for barbecue. Chilled, they offer coolness to a hot day, but the acidity, nuances of flavors, and dryness of the wine holds up to the bold sweet and spice of barbecue sauce and hearty meats. The darker, more fruit-forward Rosés pair well with pan-seared salmon or even a burger, while the lighter Rosés are fabulous with shrimp scampi spaghetti. And, of course, it is delicious just on its own; sipping a glass while you lounge by the fire (or the beach)!
Where there used to only be one or two local wineries to offer a seasonal Rosé, today, you can find almost every Santa Barbara or central coast winery to offer one. The Esperance Rosé at Andrew Murray is one of my favorites and it sells out very quickly. As the Rosé is considered a summer wine, now is the time to stock up before they disappear until next year!
There are numerous wineries in and around Santa Barbara that offer fabulous Rosés and many can be purchased at the store, or the winery themselves. However, I do have my favorites and here they are: my top 5 favorite Rosés. All are various prices (between $12 and $30) and most are available at your local store. All are blends of different Rhone varietals. I have listed them here in order of the hue, from the lightest pale salmon shade to the darkest, clear burgundy shade. So go enjoy one tonight!
- Curtis Heritage Rosé
- Halter Ranch Rosé
- Andrew Murray Esperance Rosé (already sold out, but remember this for next year)
- Brander Rosé
- Oreana Rosé