Congratulations, wine lovers: In 2010, the good ol' U. S. of A. officially consumed more wine than France for the first time ever. And as we predicted earlier this year, America's love affair with pink wine just keeps getting hotter -- evidenced by the fact that exports of rosé (and red) wines to the U.S. from Provence jumped 132 percent by value and 85 percent by volume from 2009 to 2010. And that last statistic doesn't even consider the increased quantities of rosés we sucked down from any other region outside the south of France. So let's make it official, shall we? Pink wines rock.
But lest you think that the waning days of summer serve as your signal to let up on your newly-cultivated rosé swilling habit, think again. In fact, there's hardly a better beverage to complement the heartier fare sure to turn up on your dinner (or coffee) table in the coming months as you settle into football and basketball viewing season, plan your harvest celebration meals, and prepare for that quintessential dinner party of them all: Thanksgiving. Wondering why it makes sense for you to continue to drink pink? Rosé wines are practically unmatched in terms of their versatility, especially when it comes to pairing them with food. Key attributes, including refreshing acidity, low tannins, and easy drinking berry fruit make rosé work like a champ with foods ranging from game day chicken wings to Turkey Day turkey. The trick to extending the drinkable life of pink wines is to look for those made with more muscular varietals, or at the very minimum, produced in a more manly style. Here are five fall-worthy rosé wines to get you through the season.
Commanderie de la Bargemone Rosé 2010 ($16): Here's a classic, Provençal rosé made from a blend of the usual [varietal] suspects of the region -- grenache, cinsault, and syrah. Ridiculously fresh, yet possessed of a lingering, red berry-dominant finish, we tasted plenty of ripe strawberry and raspberry fruit. What you'll also notice immediately after your first sip of this particular rosé is an undeniable mouthwatering sensation that wants to be satisfied by a simple, seafood-y snack. Peel-and-eat shrimp, anyone?
Allendorf 'Festival' Spätburgunder Rosé Secco NV ($8): Well, well, well. Just when we thought we'd sussed out every available glass of bubbly pink wine available within our rather limited financial means, we stumbled upon this charming little number. If the varietal name "spätburgunder" has you flummoxed, take heart in the knowledge that it is none other than pinot noir, going by its German moniker. And while this wine is technically more of a perlwein (which is to say, only semi-sparkling), it was fully delightful. We're already plotting its perfect fall pairing: a platter of salty-sweet, bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed dates.
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Vitiano 'Falesco' Rosato 2010 ($9): Here's another absolutely stellar rosé to savor as the days turn cooler. You already know how incredibly food-friendly Italian wines are, so it shouldn't surprise you in the least to see an Umbrian wine made from a combo of sangiovese and merlot (that in this case, just happens to be pink) on our go-to list of oh-so-perfect-for-fall rosés. And yes, even though there's merlot in the mix, this wine's bone dry, crisply refreshing palate fairly screams of this predominantly sangio offering. And since we dared to proffer up the pink completely suitable for armchair quarterbacking, why not pop a few bottles of this quaffer with a few pepperoni pizzas or better yet, a meatball sub?
Crios Rosé of Malbec 2010 ($11): If ever there was a pink wine out there that could be described as "manly," this would be it. We're fairly certain that you're familiar with the malbec's typical inky purple color and borderline-boozy blackberry and dark cherry profile. Well, just conjure up a fresher and more delicate version of that and you'd arrive at this delectably drinkable rosé. And while we're hearkening toward traditional malbec flavor memories, we'd like to recommend pairing this juicy pink version with an equally juicy and traditional malbec (and perfectly seasonal) food match: a big, fat, bacon-topped burger.
Guy Drew Cabernet Franc Rosé 2010 ($16): It was a tough job sucking down as many rosés as we had to this year in order to settle on one upon which we could bestow the ever-coveted "Best Rosé of 2011" award. If there is only one more rosé you drink this year, make it this one. The fact that it's ideal for fall weather is just icing on the cake. Cabernet franc (the viticultural love child of cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc) powers this decidedly medium-bodied pink wine with plenty of boisterous cherry flavors tinged with the perfect balance of acidity and tannin to render it sublime with two Thanksgiving Day mainstays: turkey and cranberry sauce. Hell, make that just about everything on the damn table -- sausage stuffing, cheesy potatoes, gravy...you get the idea, right?