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Not quite red or white, rosé refreshes

Rosé is essentially defined as the production of wines with a color that falls between the spectrum of red and white. This is the pink wine that adorns any well-manufactured summer picnic, basking in the glow of the summer sun.

In the past, there have been many methods for making rosé from every part of the globe. However, today there are two main processes that are employed. In the least common way, rosés are made by simply blending a finished red wine with a finished white wine to achieve a pinkish color.

Differences can be found in both the flavor and the hue of these wines. But for me, personally, I prefer the results from the most common of the two methods, maceration.

Maceration or, technically, short maceration, is achieved by soaking the juice in dark colored grapes just after crushing. This part of the process needs to be only long enough so that enough color is extracted. These colors are known as anthocyanins.

The juice is then separated from the skins by draining or pressing, and fermentation takes place just as it would in the white wine-making process. The result, if kept light and dry, is a unique flavor profile. It is a light fruit signature of the terroir.

A fine example of this type of wine is the McEvoy Ranch 2015 Rosebud. Built of Syrah and Pinot Noir grapes, this Petaluma beauty is an outstanding dry, aromatic and lovely glass of wine.

One wild card varietal, Grenache, is done a little differently. It is highly sought after for its lack of anthocyanins, and a maceration of only 10 to 12 hours is sufficient to make the colors and flavors of this grape pop. Highly pigmented grapes, such as Grenache, need very little contact time with the skin.

Other lightly colored grapes need more. A fine rosé of Grenache is the 2015 Epiphany Rosé from Santa Barbara. Notes of watermelon and light hints of passion fruit render this a gem in any summer glassware.

Of note, there is one other method sometimes used to make rosé from red wine. This process uses charcoal treatments to remove the color from the red wine, lightening it up so to speak. On the very lightest side of pink wines, one may seek a vin gris or even a blush wine, the lightest rosé wine.

One of the best vin gris in the country is, without question, the Robert Sinskey. Pale with a tint of almond oil color, the wine is fresh and young and so vibrant with acidity. Hints of dried rose petals and a slight note of mountain strawberry fruit render this one of the best.

Food pairings for rosé include spicy Mexican, wherein the smoked chili flavors and paprika soften so gently against the subtle, warm berry and cherry fruit or a fine dish of pad Thai noodles or Yum Talay with the fresh flavors of seafood, lime, chili and mint absorbing the dainty fruit flavors of the fine, pink wine.

Incredible rosé can be found all over the world. Some maintain the very best come from France. I may have to agree — at least, most of the best that I taste are from France. However, Petaluma rosés are on the rise. McEvoy, Keller Estate, Hart’s Desire and many others are producing what is truly world-class rosé that is rivaling the French.

(Jason Jenkins is the owner of Vine and Barrel in Petaluma. Contact him at jason@vineandbarrel.com.)