Old habits die slowly. Take, for instance, the old myth that all rosé wines are sweet.
That may have been true 30 years ago when most wine makers still believed that all pink wines were for novices who didn’t like dry wine.
Moreover, it wasn’t easy to make a great dry rosé since oxygen can easily turn the color from pink to orange; when it really gets bad, such wines become tawny or even brown.
All that began to change when methods of making it grew more sophisticated and the terrific fruit flavors of various grapes could be captured.
It’s not easy to make a great dry rosé, but around the world we now see literally hundreds of dry versions that display all sorts of fascinating aromas, from tangerine to watermelon, from cherry to citrus, and many other enticing characteristics.
Dry rosé has been made by various procedures over the years, and the best way is to harvest red grapes earlier than you would for red wine and to leave the juice and skins in contact with one another for just a short period of time, to pick up color and flavor.
I generally don’t favor making rosé by what is called saignée, where juice is drawn off a fermenting tank of fully mature red grapes. Usually, such wines lack the delicacy and fruity aromas of wines made intentionally to be rosé.
At the recent Taste of Sonoma at MacMurray Ranch, part of the Sonoma County Wine Weekend, I tasted two dozen dry rosés, all of them excellent.
But oddly, of the hundreds who attended this event, many told the pourers that they didn’t want to even try their dry rosés, saying, “I don’t drink sweet wine.” I did not make this up.
A lot of people still must think that if it’s pink, it will be sweet, no matter what the label says.
Because of this misperception, most of the dry rosés I tried were from small production. For instance, Kokomo made just 160 cases of its grenache rosé, Forth made 200 cases of a syrah rosé, Montemaggiore made just 75 cases of a syrah rosé, Anaba did just 175 cases of its Turbine Pink grenache rosé, and Acorn made only 93 cases of its Rosato.
These smaller wineries continue to make dry rosé wines to sell mainly at their tasting rooms, some of them to be consumed at nearby picnic tables with sandwiches. The wines are all fresh, stylish, and crisp.
A few larger wineries continue to make dry rosé wines in larger amounts, and distribute them nationally.
One is J. Pedronelli, which next year celebrates its 85th year in the wine business. The family-owned winery has owned its own vineyards for decades, so has little debt, and thus charges a lot less for its wines than it could based solely on quality.
The winery has been making a dry rosé of zinfandel for years, and the latest version was one of the stars of my tasting last week in Sonoma.
Wine of the Week
2010 J. Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley ($11) — The aroma of this dramatic wine is all raspberries and strawberries, and the entry is relatively rich, but terrific acidity makes this dry wine a winner with a wide array of foods. A great value, and better than many of the dry rosés I tasted last week that sell for twice as much.
Dan Berger lives in Sonoma County, where he publishes “Vintage Experiences,” a weekly wine newsletter. Write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.