Does rosé deserve so much attention?: Uncork the Forks

Long Island wine

A sampling of Long Island rosés. (Credit: Randee Daddona)

Are we tired of rosé yet?

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, the answer for me is a resounding “no.” I love well-made — most often dry — rosé. I drink it year round with myriad foods, which is one reason it can be so great. Good rosé combines the complexity and structure of red wine with the refreshing, thirst-quenching qualities of whites.

Rosé is infinitely versatile at the table (or at the beach or park). Pick up some fresh fish from our local waters? Rosé will complement them well. Serving smoky-sweet barbecued chicken and burgers? It works there, too. You can even serve certain styles of rosé with a steak.

And yet, as much as I love drinking rosés, I’m a bit tired of hearing about them. Dry rosé has been having “a moment” for several years now. Writers far and wide have been penning odes to its “resurgence.” I’ve done it, too.

Over the past several years, I’ve pulled together as many East Coast rosés — mainly from New York, but also Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia — as I can get my hands on to taste with a group of wine folks with the goal of writing an all-encompassing report about this new vintage.

After last year’s tasting, I’m done with the rosé report. I won’t be doing one this year.

It’s not that some of the wines weren’t very good. They always are. There aren’t very many clunkers either, though there’s always a wine or two that I’d rather not put into my mouth. The problem is that most of the wines — up to 90 percent — are just OK. Make no mistake, these wines are perfectly drinkable. But they don’t warrant nearly as much thought as I was affording them. Certainly there is little need for a “report” about them. Who wants to read that?

No matter how good you are at writing tasting notes, you can only write “fresh” and “strawberry and watermelon” so many times before you begin to fall asleep.

I was giving rosé too much attention — putting too much pressure on it as a category. It’s not meant to be dissected and lamented. Very little of it is, anyway. It’s so trendy and hot right now — but it’s rosé, people. Drink it. Enjoy it. Repeat. But remember that there is so much more to explore in the wine world.

And yet, I’m conflicted. I hope this pink bubble doesn’t burst anytime soon because I love drinking the good ones. Then again, I think most of the good ones were available when rosé was just rosé and not an international phenomenon.

So, just a couple reminders about rosé and its enjoyment as the 2016 editions are released locally.

Not all rosé is created equal. There is very little outright bad rosé made on Long Island, but there is also very little great rosé. There is a lot of mediocrity out there. In general, the rosé that is made with intention (rather than as a way to improve concentration in red wine production, via the saignée method) is better balanced and more interesting.

Fresher isn’t always better. You don’t need to drink all of your 2015 rosé before the 2016s come out. I’d never suggest aging most local rosé, but I’ve actually found that six to 12 months of bottle age actually makes them more interesting. They might be a bit less racy in November (say, for Thanksgiving) than they are in June, but they’ll be plenty bright and I think a bit more delicious.

Don’t drink them icy. Much like most white wine, rosé is best enjoyed chilled, but not at the edge of frozen. Rosé is rarely layered and complex anyway, but if served too cold, what flavors and interest that are there will be muted.

Lenn Thompson