The overture is winding down, but the main event is just beginning. In other words, May – anointed “Barbecue Month” – might be ending, but the height of the real Chicago barbecue season is now here. Memorial Day is up, with Father’s Day on deck.
Speaking of the deck – and patio – it’s the perfect time of year for making much-maligned rosé wines a legitimate imbibing pleasure. Despite the lake of White Zinfandel, or any sweet-as-county-fair-candy pink juice fit for a carnie’s near-toothless pie hole, rosé can be delicious.
What’s a shame is that, just like wines that are a little “too inexpensive,” those that are a shade of pink tend to make many self-styled oenophiles blush.
Dry versions of rosé come from all over the world – from France, Spain, South Africa and domestic vineyards. Many are Grenache/Garnacha based, and others use Tempranillo and the hallowed Cabernet Sauvignon. The French (even those with few enough teeth to make a carnie blush) often prefer sipping a rosé over a white wine during the summer months.
As the barbecue-themed holidays continue to roll through like gusts of sultry southwest winds, have good-quality rosé at the ready. Most are versatile enough to pair with brats, grilled swordfish and lamb burgers. Plus, they are nicely priced to boot.
Below are a few of Chicago Budget Wine Examiner’s recommendations that can be found at Chicago-area stores. All of them leave enough spare change for elephant ears and the tilt-a-whirl:
Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2010: A South African delight with enough of the renowned Cab structure to complement meaty pork ribs – especially those with a tangy (not smoky) barbecue sauce. It’s also dry and crisp enough to pivot to a quick preparation of turkey burgers or skinless chicken breasts. $9.
Domaine de Saint Antoine Costieres de Nimes Rosé 2010: Nice acidic crispness at first, with ripe-yet-tart strawberry flavors leading to a nice finish of honeydew. The Saint Antoine – made of Grenache and Syrah – is more suited to grilled fish like salmon and tuna. Also, try it with fresh lake trout marinated in olive oil and a very light sprinkling of herbs. $10.
Viña Sastre Ribera del Duero Rosado 2009: Made from 100% Tempranillo, this wine is bright pink with aromas of tangerine followed by an understated floral character. Flavors begin with tangy-yet-restrained strawberry-rhubarb and finish with light cantaloupe. Pair this nice Spanish rosé with barbecued chicken or Sheboygan bratwurst. $12.
Alexander Valley Vineyards Rosé of Sangiovese 2010: The Sangiovese grape can thrive outside of Tuscany. Its use here precludes the strawberry flavors noted a couple of the aforementioned wines. Instead, the flavors tend toward tart cherry pie and tangy stone fruit. To eat? Lamb burgers, with grilled eggplant and a dollop of Greek yogurt. $11
Be careful, it’s easy to drain the bottle of any of these ever-quaffable rosés before the grilled treats are ready. That’s a bit like designating May as Barbecue Month…