Whether you're in St. Maarten and having summertime for your winter or summer vacation, or you're experiencing the real summer of the northern hemisphere, and it's wonderful hot, sunny day, what wine do you feel like drinking?
If you're a wine-lover, drink a summer-wine. You could choose a cold, crisp white. But, here's an idea -- think pink! Not only is pink the color of summer fashion; but it can also take you to some easy-drinking, satisfying wine for hot weather and summer food.
Pink wines are called Rosé or "Blush" wines. Blush was a marketing name given to pink wines in California in the 1980s to encourage people to try them when they found wines called "Rosé" weren't selling and they had tons of red zinfandel grapes and no market.
There are two really distinctive styles of pink wine and you can have basic expectations from the country of origin. The classic rosé wine of Europe is a dry, fruity wine; a delight to drink when served chilled with a nice lunch and the right food combinations. The blush, or white zinfandel, from California is sweet, many wine-lovers disparagingly refer to it as alcoholic strawberry soda.
In the States, a lot of wine stores sell primarily the sweet versions of rosé and white zinfandel because it's so popular now. But in Europe, and in St. Martin and its neighboring Islands, it's easy to find the fine, easy-drinking dry variety of rosé produced in the south of France which are excellent values.
This is another example of how frequently wines develop in style and taste as a consequence of their region, the life-style and food of its people as well as the terroir. The rosés of France come from the warmer southern areas. The most well known are from Provence, around the French Riviera with its famous beaches and resorts like St. Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. But the southern Rhone Valley also produces lovely rosés as does Spain, Portugal and even Germany.
Many people who became wine lovers in the 60s and 70s first tasted inexpensive Portuguese Rosé -- names that bring back fond memories of my youth -- Lancers and Mateus. Dry rosé are great wines for summer, a treat for lunch at the beach or on a picnic in your local park or wilderness.
The pink color of rosé wines comes from contact with the grape skin during the early stages on wine production. This "skin-contact" also gives European-styled rosé wines their structure, complex flavors and dryness from the tannins in the grape skin.
There are lots of occasions for rosé wines. They are interesting to order when several diners want to share a bottle but are having dishes that would otherwise suggest a white wine for one and a red for the other. For example if you're having fish and your dinner companion is having meat. Rosé goes with both! Another occasion for rosé is when red wine seems too heavy: hot days and evenings when red wine might raise your body temperature and you'd feel uncomfortable. Rosé wines fit casual events and ethnically diverse food including: burgers, hot dogs, pork, ham, Asian dishes, and are perfect for Sunday Brunch.
There's no better way to celebrate being in St. Martin, at the beach, or back home to herald the summer. Rosés go with Valentine's Day, however, you might want to enjoy a rosé Champagne for its added romance.
If you're in St. Martin, St. Barth's or Anguilla and want to feel very French-at-the-beach, stop by Bacchus Restaurant & Wine Cellar to try one of the many reasonably-priced, dry rosé wines from the South of France. It's a taste of summer in a bottle. drink them at home in the winter doldrums and it will bring you right back to the beach. You may become a blush-wine-lover even if you never want to let a white zinfandel touch your lips. You can also have a real treat with the rosé Champagne of Billecart Salmon, pure bottled delight!