It’s happy hour at Steve’s Wine Bar, and the patrons are sitting back with reds and whites.
Rosé wines get painted in superficial terms — known as “mommy juice” and the starter wine for college girls (think Arbor Mist). It has a reputation for being sweet — and less than serious. But in the last few years, rosés have enjoyed a higher profile. And on Saturday, rosé wines get some special attention with National Rosé Day.
But Steve’s Wine Bar co-owner Steve Severance said he’s got customers who drink pink.
“I have more people coming in and specifically asking for a dry rosé,” said Severance, who runs the Industrial Street bar with his wife, Karen. “It tends to be people who know wine, but they’re asking for the dry rosés.”
Rosé wine is made from all kinds of grapes, Severance said. There are rosés made from cabernet grapes, pinot noir grapes, malbec and syrah grapes. Winemakers approach rosé differently — they ferment the grapes of their choice, but leave the skins of the red grapes for only a few hours. Then the juice is separated from the skins and fermentation finishes without the grape flesh. The deeper the pink, the longer the skins touched the wine.
Some of the rosés Severance sells barely blush, but some bottles sport a ruby shade.
“Rosé is between a white wine, which has a high, acidic value and tastes cold and crisp, and red wine, which gives you more body, and more of a tannic structure,” Severance said. “When people are looking for a rosé, they’re looking for an easy drinking wine.”
By easy drinking, Severance said wine drinkers are looking for a wine they can drink on its own. “When you drink a rosé, it’s not like drinking a glass of wine and thinking, ‘I need to eat some cheese with this.’”
Demand for rosé wine started to rise around 2009. In 2017, Stephen Cronk, founder of Mirabeau en Provence, told the British newspaper The Independent that what he called “the rosé revolution” has been driven by consumers, and that wine drinkers should expect to see more gastronomic rosés — wines intended to be paired with food — and “French pink sparkling wines” that could compete with fizzy prosécco.
Severance carries a few rows of rosés — sparkling and still — by the bottle and glass. Wine Squared, a wine bar on the downtown Square, lists a single rosé on its menu — Fortant Grenache, a French wine with red currant, thyme, citrus and red berry in its flavor profile. Wine Squared also pours white zinfandel, a sweet rosé.
Severance pours some sweet rosés — moscatos and a California sweet rosé. He’s been uncorking Chateau Goudichaud rosé, a cabernet Franc wine that tastes of berries and white peach. He’s also pouring Renucci Tentation rosé, which has a broad flavor profile with pears, peaches, cherries, raspberries and clementines. A 2016 Disruption rosé — harvested and bottled in Washington state — blends syrah, cinsault, grenache and mourvedre grapes and delivers a light berry and citrus flavor.
“Nothing is particularly popular in rosé wine,” Severance said. “When people come in and ask, I ask them what they’re looking for. It depends on what you want. If you want a sweet rosé, you can get a sweet rosé. If you want something dry, you can get that. It’s still a white and red world out there. But rosé is in between, and if you want something a little different, rosé could be the way to go.”