Several years ago, the sky ablaze with early-evening sunlight, a formidable selection of rosé bottles in front of me, I thought, “Maybe this time it’s for real.”
That summer event was designed to promote rosé drinking, to impress upon people that there was nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of pink wine. The aim of such events was to suggest that rosé was actually cool, or fashionable, or whatever.
My hopeful “this time” notion was bolstered by where I was at the time — standing on a terrace, a packed public bar surrounded by skyscrapers and concrete. It was not the south of France, or a seaside village in Spain. It was a northern metropolis of the USA, with stylish people sipping shades of pink in nearly every glass: subtle rose petal, vibrant onion skin, slick salmon and bolder hues inching toward backlit cranberry juice.
For those who had been frightened away by white zinfandel or some other too-sweet version of pink wine, it was time to try this genteel style again (or for the first time). By the looks of things on that terrace, one could have predicted that drinking rosé would soon be a year-round activity.
Alas, that doesn’t appear to be the case, but I am here to make the case for drinking the pink stuff through the winter. For those of us who will be slogging through the dreary dim of the season, this beautiful wine style is at the peak of its power.
How could you not long for fresh bursts of strawberry, watermelon and raspberry, among other lively fruits, when the leisurely days of summer have been filed to memory?
Rosé isn’t connected to any particular occasion, but it is definitely still associated with certain times of the year. When we need rosé’s bright, floral qualities the most — in the dead of winter — there’s a disconnect.
Forget the spring-through-fall window of acceptable rosé drinking. Forget the outdoor, fair-weather habitat of pink wine. Open a bottle when the skies are gray, to call attention to the beauty of the wine, especially when the world around you is lacking the beauty it possessed even quite recently. Celebrate the quirky juxtaposition.
Rosé is a fine partner for a variety of lighter foods — from olives, nuts and cheeses, to salads and light appetizers, plus seafood, roasted chicken and pork. With moderate amounts of alcohol and tannin, plus vibrant acidity and sometimes boatloads of lip-smacking fruit; rosé is a great wine style to just enjoy on its own. Pour a glass, drink in the visual beauty and sip away the gloom that the physical world is pushing at you.
Drink rosé slightly chilled, regardless of the temperature outside. Stick it in the refrigerator for an hour — as it warms, the wine will open up, in aroma and flavor. Or don’t focus on it that closely, and just use it as an accompaniment to your marathon Netflix viewing session. Orchestrating your winter rosé drinking session is your call.
Whatever you do, though, do it with intention. Tell your friends you’re inviting them over specifically to drink rosé because, well, have you looked outside today?
Put them in the mindset that you are putting yourself in, and all of the beautiful pink pieces will fall into place.
Long before I had my first taste of wine, my sisters used to fire up a heat lamp in our bathroom in the middle of winter, for the warmth and the light it provided. While temperatures outside hovered in the 20s, and the sky was as low and gray as an old mule’s belly, stepping into that bathroom on frigid mornings was like being teleported to Aruba in my footie pajamas. It was so bright in there, so inviting, so comforting. The lamp was like a miniature sun. You couldn’t look directly at it, but even with your eyes closed, you could feel its energy and power.
Drinking rosé can do that for you in the dead of winter if your mind is right. It can do it for you on any day, really. But these are the days when we need it most.