Pair the picnic with pleasurable pinks

Roses regain their good name

The quality of the world’s rose has reached the point that it’s no longer an embarrassment to drink pink.

The villain behind the anti-pink sentiment in America was blush wine, an often-insipid blend of white and red wines. Rose is created by crushing red grapes and allowing the skins to hang around long enough to tint the juice before fermentation.

Now that roses have regained their good name, American producers are showing a renewed interest in the wine. However, Europe still has the edge on creating the drier, Provencal-style roses. These work better with food than California’s fruitier models, which have higher alcohol levels.

“In the last five years, people have been returning from Europe and asking for roses,” said Lance Montalto of the Wine House in West Los Angeles, where he offers roses from about 75 different producers in the summer. A few years ago, he had only five or six.

But for everyone who became enchanted with Domaine Ott during the Cannes Film Festival, local wine retailers are quick to offer better alternatives. Montalto, for example, recommends the lean Costiere de Nimes from France or, for a fleshier wine when cuisine comes from the grill, a Lagrein rose from Italy’s Trentino.

“Younger is better” is a fair guideline for many roses, and the 2004 vintage is rich and vibrant. However, at a recent tasting of 40 roses, the 2001 Chateau Simone Palette Rose from Provence was deemed tops. It had a fine balance of acidity and fruit, with the aroma and taste of anise and licorice.

Whatever you choose: Serve it cold, cold, cold.

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