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Enjoy an affordable, late-summer rosé redux

If you haven’t yet enjoyed a rosé or two this summer, there’s still time to take advantage of one of the season’s wine delights. TODAY wine columnist Edward Deitch highlights excellent, refreshing wines that are perfect for outdoor meals.
/ Source: TODAY

If you haven’t yet enjoyed a rosé or two this summer, there’s still time to take advantage of one of the season’s wine delights. Rosés are great to drink on their own and they are excellent wines for food in warm weather, especially appetizers, but also lighter main courses from fish to chicken and even simple, grilled meats. Served chilled, they feel light and refreshing on one hand but, since they are made from red grapes, they hold up to somewhat heartier dishes.

In my tastings over this past weekend, a couple stood out, one from Italy and the other from California. Prosecco, the popular Italian sparkling wine, is one of the world’s top values in bubbly. When a friend invited us over for lunch and an afternoon at the beach, I brought along a bottle of Cantine Riondo’s Pink Prosecco Raboso, thinking it would match well with all kinds of foods. And I was right.

This lightly sparkling wine, which the Italians call frizzante, shows cherry and strawberry fruit with a touch of sweetness combined with good acidity and a dry, ever-so-slightly bitter finish. Low alcohol — just 10 and a half percent — makes it quaffable and refreshing, as we quickly learned at lunch on the patio.

Our host took one sip and pronounced it delicious in the hot sun as we enjoyed her perfect meal of hamburgers, a cold lentil salad and a second salad of sweet watermelon and feta cheese, which is a great combination that I’ll be making in my own kitchen. When I later observed that the hamburger was unusually tasty, our host revealed that the meat was half bison (available in the supermarket), and half ground beef, combined with a smattering of herbs from the garden. I can still taste its succulence.

Through it all, our little pink prosecco was providing an elegant and tasty counterpoint, proving, among other things, that the right $10 bottle of wine can rise to just about any occasion. Prosecco, which is seen more often in its white form, is from Italy’s Veneto region, and is the name of the wine and the main grape used in it. In this case, a little raboso, a native red variety, is used to make the pink wine.

Another impressive rosé, this one not sparkling and in a deeper, fuller style, is St. Supéry’s 2006 Napa Valley Rosé, which is quite dark in color and which the winery sells for $18 on its Web site, Made from merlot grapes, it’s marked by cassis, raspberry and herbal notes. The fruit emerged nicely as the wine warmed up a bit, which is often the case with chilled wines.

Rosés have exploded on the wine scene in recent years and are made from just about every red variety in most wine regions. They’re generally in the $10 to $20 price range. So, as you enjoy casual meals for the rest of the summer, don’t forget to think pink for a winning food and wine match-up.  

Edward Deitch is the recipient of the 2007 James Beard Foundation Journalism Award for Best Multimedia Writing. He welcomes comments from readers. Write to him at