Story by Dave Eckert
Summer will soon be here, and with it those searingly hot Kansas City summertime temperatures. If you’re a red wine lover like me the summer heat raises a serious question. What red wine can you drink that’s not going to make you sweat any more than you already are? Let’s face it, it’s just not very pleasant quaffing a high alcohol, high tannin Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel in 90-degree heat. Ah, but there is a solution – think pink as in Rosé. A nicely chilled Rosé provides the perfect fodder for a blazingly hot summer day or a muggy summer night. Plus, Rosés are amazingly food-friendly, extremely affordable, and widely available. What’s more, pink wines, especially domestic versions, are no longer cloyingly sweet sugar bombs, but dry, often mineral, expressions of their grapes.
Rosés come from all corners of the planet and they are made in every style from light and fruity to full-bodied and powerful. I truly believe there is a Rosé style for every wine drinker on the planet – another reason I love them so much. Kristi Quick Weise, the General Manager of Jax Seafood House and Oyster Bar, concurs. “It pairs well with just about everything. There are so many different styles. You can have it fruit-forward, almost candy-like, you can have it with residual sugar, you can have it bone dry. It’s just a lot of fun,” Weise shared with me recently over a glass (or two) of Rosé at her Country Club Plaza eatery.
Weise, who just added more than a half dozen Rosés to her wine list, and promises more, says Americans have the perception that pink wines are going to be sweet. But, the days of cloying White Zinfandels are long gone, and most Rosés these days are as dry if not drier than the majority of white and red wines we routinely drink. You would be hard-pressed to find a more ardent Rosé supporter than Weise. I asked her what some her favorite Rosés were and why? “I guess I’m the Pinot Noir Rosé girl. I really like the fruity nature of those wines. The Erath Rosé, which we just added, is a Pinot Noir Rosé that I really enjoy,” Weise told me.
Rosés pair especially well with Jax’s seafood-dominated cuisine. Order a glass to go with their calamari with a sweet and spicy sauce and you’ll see what I mean. And even if you don’t make it into Jax, I’ve asked Chef Bryan Sparks to supply a Rosé-friendly recipe so you can have a Jax-like Rosé and food experience at home. You can find the recipe below. If you are heading to Jax for the Rosés, may I suggest stopping by on June 20th or 21st Jax is celebrating the Longest Day to Drink Rosé with a special Rosé-themed dinner on the 20th and special Rosé pairings on the 21st. I’m planning on being there both days!
I mentioned earlier that Rosés come from nearly everywhere grapes are grown and wine is made, but I wanted to give some love to Rosés emanating from a place I recently visited-Washington State. I had a couple dozen Rosés during my time in Washington from a myriad of different wine producing appellations. I selected six that impressed me.
Here they are in no particular order…
From the expansive Columbia Valley, this Cabernet Franc-based Rosé is darker andfuller-bodied than the others, but no less delicious. If you prefer a bigger-styled Rosé, this is the bottling for you. Heck, this baby could even handle a charcoal-grilled steak served with a side of garlic-infused mushrooms.
From Walla Walla’s Long Shadows Vineyards comes this stunningly delightful Rosé of Pinot Gris grapes. With tons of high tone fruit and beautiful bracing acidity, Julia’s Dazzle is, well, dazzling. Give me some spicy chicken wings and a glass or two of this and I’m a happy man!
The least expensive of the six recommended Rosés, this was also the most surprising to me. I love Sangiovese in its purest expression-the wines of Chianti Classico, Vino Nobile di Montapulciano, and Brunello di Montalcino, but I have rarely had it in Rosé form. I had no idea what I was missing. Bright and cheery, I actually enjoyed the wine as it warmed a bit allowing the Sangiovese to express some of its earthier notes. Try this beauty with a tomato-based pasta and you will not be disappointed.
It’s not often you have a good wine that’s produced for a good cause, but that’s the case here. All proceeds from the sale of this Walla Walla Rosé go to the SOS Clinic, which provides healthcare to those in need in the Walla Walla community. As for the wine, it’s lip-smackingly good, the perfect patio or back deck quaffer!
Another Columbia Valley offering, this Rosé uses the more traditional Grenache grape. Because of its natural fruitiness, Grenache often forms the backbone of many French Rosés-one of the reasons I enjoy them so much. This offering is no different, emphasizing the bright cherry and strawberry notes of the Grenache while balancing the wine with lovely acidity. Spicy grilled shrimp anyone?
Okay, enough writing about Rosés, time to drink some. Luckily, I’ve got plenty to choose from.
Pickled Strawberrys / Fennel Pollen / Creme Fraiche / Saffron Pickled Daikon / Watercress Puree
To make strawberry pickling liquid, combine two cups champagne vinegar, 2 cups water, 1/2 cup sugar, 1 bay leaf, 4 tbsp pink peppercorns, and two sprigs thyme. heat till boiling. Remove from heat, add whole strawberries and place in cooler for use later.
To make saffron pickled Daikon use 4 strands of saffron in the same pickling liquid as the strawberries. Shave daikons on a mandolin as thin as you can get them.
For Watercress Puree, add washed and trimmed watercress bundles to blender with just enough water to get the consistency desired, for me it is a drizzly sauce.
To lightly cure the Halibut Belly, make sure it is sliced thinly and mix it with equal parts sugar and kosher salt so it is fully submerged. Let it sit for at least 2 hours and up to a full 24 hours but no longer.