Hooray for Rosé

Like many people, for years I had a perception that all rosé wines were sweet. It likely goes back to my Boone’s Farm early college years where for $2.95, I think, I could buy a bottle of Strawberry Hill and suck it down like the Kool-Aid drinks I had as a child. I did not drink the candy-like Boone’s Farm for long, but
the sugary memories have lingered.

So, to buy and drink anything that had a light pink hue brought back flashbacks of horrible hangovers and sugar crashes. It took several years for me to understand what a rosé wine was and even longer to develop an appreciation. Now, especially with the spring birds singing, longer days and warm sunshine, rosés are many times my drink of choice. (Thanks in large part to Kara Sweet).

But I am not alone. Since, California’s Sutter Home Winery accidently created what we now refer to as white zinfandel, people have flocked to liquor stores to purchase jugs of the sweet and fruity beverage.

According to Sutter Homes, the story behind white zinfandel began when winemaker Bob Trinchero, admiring French rosés, fermented and barrel aged some of the free run juice from his zin grapes. He gave his pink tinged wine a French name, Oeil de Perdrix, a descriptive term for white wines made from
red grapes in France. With U.S. laws requiring an English description, Bob added “a white zinfandel wine” in small print. In 1975, one batch did not fully ferment resulting in a lower alcohol wine with a larger amount of sugar. Sutter Home decided to bottle it anyway. The sweet, pink wine became an instant hit and for decades created a myth that rosés were all sweet, non-serious wines.

Times have changed. For the past decade, rose’ sales have skyrocketed. The versatile, food friendly and mostly affordable wine has made a comeback. At the Firehouse, our winemaker Adam has created two beautifully delicious and dry rosés. The Rockhound Rosé, made from the Sangiovese grape, was voted
one of the top 10 wines of 2019 by USA Wine Ratings, and our newly released Prairie Flower is inspired by the southern Rhone Valley and includes the traditional French grapes Syrah, Grenache and Pinot Noir with the addition of the more unique varieties of Counoise and Semillon. Both are perfect spring and
summer sipping wines.

While my wine collection is still dominated by dry reds, rosés are climbing closer to that top spot. And in a way, I can look back on my early days of drinking and thank Boone’s Farm for sparking my interest in
wine. We all start somewhere.

Follow Michelle Pawelski:
Firehouse Wine Cellars general manager

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