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11/02/2011 10:19 am ET | Updated Aug 31, 2012

What The Heck Is ... Rosé?

In our series "What the Heck Is ..." we share with you foods and/or ingredients that people should know more about. This week we're bringing your attention to rosé wine.

Are you looking for a summer drink that's refreshing, light and fruity? Rosé is your answer. But unfortunately not everyone knows about it. Over the years, some misconceptions have kept rosé from getting its due notice. It's not because the wine wasn't any good, but because it was confused with blush wines (often sold boxed or in jugs) of the '90s, which was when white zinfandel was big. But wine has come a long way since then. Tastes have matured, and thankfully people are pushing away the boxed blush and are appreciating rosé wines more and more. Rosé wines are very high-quality and still relatively affordable. Famous in Europe, these pink wines are dry, fruit-forward, refreshing and thoroughly enjoyable on a hot summer's day.

The making of rosé starts with dark-skinned, red wine grapes, like Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Grenache, Syrah, Merlot, etc. Rosé is not a blending of red and white wines, but white wine grapes are sometimes used in the making of rosé. Normally wines made from dark-skinned grapes turn into deep red-colored wines, that's because the skins are allowed to color the juice for a long period of time. But when rosé is made, the skins are removed after only a brief amount of time with the juice, as little as a few hours. The winemaker decides how little or how long to let the process run with periodic testing. This process eventually leads to the making of rosé wine. And that's why you will find rosé wines in a large range of colors, from very pale almost gray pink to peach to salmon to bright fuschia.

Men, listen up -- rosé is not a woman's wine. In Europe rosé is enjoyed by everyone. There's no reason to stay away from it because it's pink. Drink rosé young, preferably within 18 months of its production -- it's not a wine that you would age. Serving rosé slightly chilled is recommended, but you'll taste more of the flavor as the wine warms up to room temperature. Enjoy rosé with a variety of foods, like salads, pasta, fish, chicken, and even meats. The Spanish love rosé with jamón ibérico, the cured ham similar to Italian prosciutto. In France, Provençe is famous for its rosé winemaking and drinking. The French love the wine with appetizers like breads, cheese, and olives. Rosé is even made in Australia and South America. And of course, you can find good rosé here in the States, too. Go beyond blush and try a rosé this summer. It's great for entertaining and pairs well with a number of foods. Check out the recommendations below for specific wines.

Rosé Wine Recommendations

Under $10
Rosé of Malbec, Cristobal 1492 (2010), $6.96
This Argentinian rosé is made from the country's famous Malbec grapes. It's very dry and full of berry flavor.

Under $15
Parés Balta "Ros de Pacs" Rosé (2010), $10.99
This deep red rosé from the Penedès region of Spain blends Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Syrah. Look for bold fruit flavors of cherry and spices.

Minervois Rosé, La Tour Boisée (2010)
, $11.96
This peach-colored rosé blends Cinsualt, Grenache and Syrah and it's made in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. Look for delicate flavors of strawberries. Pair it with seafood.

Wölffer Rosé (2010), $13.99
This wine blends Bordeaux-style grapes: Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay (a white wine grape) and Merlot. It's made on the North Fork of Long Island. Look for flavors of citrus and strawberries with a mineral finish.

Paxton Shiraz Rosé (2009), $13.99
This Australian shiraz (known as Syrah elsewhere) is a biodynamically produced wine. It's full of flavor with a long finish.

Markowitsch Rosé (2010), $13.99
This Austrian rosé blends Blaufränkisch, Cabernet Sauvignon and Zweigelt. It has fruity aromas and mineral finish.

Côtes de Provence "Perle de Rosé," Real Martin (2010), $14.96
This wine is a perfect example of the Provençal tradition. It blends Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah. Look for an aroma of strawberries.

Over $20
Vin Gris of Pinot Noir, Robert Sinskey Vineyards (2010), $31.99
Vin gris (gray wine) is the name for rosé when it's made from Pinot Noir. Typically vin gris is made in France, but this wine is produced biodynamically in Napa, California. Look for berry aromas and flavors with a mineral finish.

Related Video

Watch the video to learn more about rosé winemaking in Spain.

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