When it’s “hot town, summer in the city,” as the iconic song says, few potations are quite as refreshing as a nice, ice cold, glass of rosé.
Rosé (pronounced ROE-zey) is a term used to describe wines in the color spectrum between red and white, from faint pink to dark rose. Rosé is made from the juice of red grapes, which was allowed only limited contact with the grape skins after the grapes were crushed. Grape juice is always clear, even when it comes from red grapes. The color of a wine comes from the grape skins, and the less time a juice spends in contact with the skins, the lighter in color will be the wine it produces.
In recent years a handful of crisp, refreshing kosher rosés have come to market, but unfortunately these wines have not tended to sell well. According to Jeff Morgan, noted winemaker and author of multiple books on food and wine, including “Rosé: A Guide to the World’s Most Versatile Wine,” and most recently “Domaine Chandon Cookbook: Recipes from Etoile Restaurant” (Forthcoming, Chronicle Books, $40), this is because “semi-sweet blush wines have been the norm in America for rosés since World War II. And for this reason many serious wine drinkers disdain all rosés.
In the same manner, many serious wine drinkers disdain all kosher wines because of the ‘traditional’ syrupy, Concord-grape wines that had at one time been the norm for kosher wines.”
Regardless of its lack of popularity, rosé remains a great summertime wine, and for this month’s Fruit of the vine we tasted eight kosher rosés. The results were varied, with wines ranging from the barely potable to the truly enjoyable.
One of the best wines in the tasting was Recanati’s 2009 Rosé ($17.99, Available at Skyview Wine and Liquors
5681 Riverdale Ave., Riverdale,  601-8222.) Made from a blend of Barbera and Merlot grapes grown in the Upper Galilee, this dry, crisp, light-to-medium bodied, bright rose-colored wine has flavors and aromas of cherries and boysenberries, with a hint of watermelon, and a nice underlying element of citrus. A nice addition to a barbeque or picnic, this rosé should be consumed within the next year.
Also very good was Herzog’s 2007 Special Reserve Zin Gris ($17.99, Chateau de Vin, 544 Central Ave., Cedarhurst,  374-9463). This dry, dark-peach-colored, light-bodied wine was made from Zinfandel grapes grown in the Lodi region of California. It has a bouquet of cherries and kumquats, with a hint of oak. Look for flavors of cherries, raspberries, and citrus. The wine is starting to show signs of age and should be consumed within the next few months.
The final standout of the tasting was Don Ernesto’s 2009 Napa Valley Vin Gris ($15, Direct from winery: www.donernesto.com, (888) 424-2336.) Made by Ernie Weir (a.k.a. Don Ernesto) of Hagafen Cellars, this light-medium bodied, dark rose-colored wine has flavors and aromas or cherries and raspberries, with a note of Meyer lemons, and just a hint of greenness. Dry, crisp and refreshing, this wine should be consumed within the next year.
Some of the other rosés tasted were: Barkan Classic, Costal Plain, Shiraz Rosé, 2006, and Herzog Selection, France, Rose Brut, NV.
Rosé is a food-friendly wine and generally goes well with fish, poultry, and pasta dishes. Most rosés are made to be drunk young, so avoid wines that are more than one or two years old. Always serve rosé well chilled. Now that the summer is really heating up, think about cooling down with a nice glass of rosé.