Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Rosé by any other name…

A wine tasting adventure with Erica Papillion, Director of Communications, Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA).
Rosé tasting at the Windsor Court Grill Room dispells
myths  of a wine that's refreshing for the high
temperatures ahead.
Let me begin this blog by assuring you that I am not a wine connoisseur, but when the mood to drink strikes, it’s the libation I prefer. I like my wine white and sweet, so when LRA Greater New Orleans Regional Director Sarah Peltier asked me this week to accompany her to a tasting class featuring rosé, I was all in. I assumed two things: rosé is a white wine and it would be as floral as its name suggests. I was wrong on number one, and not quite accurate on number two.

The class was held at the Grill Room of the Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans—an elegant setting befitting our topic. The sommelier leading the discussion was Sara Kavanaugh. I was surprised to discover that rosé is a red wine, perfect for this time of year. Rosé can vary in color from pale orange to near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques. Sommelier Sara shared with us that the late 80s, early 90s white zinfandel in a box craze nearly killed rosé in America, but it’s slowly making a (more refined) comeback.
Sommelier Sara Kavanaugh will
lead an IDEA ZONE session
"Does your nose know?" Wine
Aromas Class, Sunday, August 12
at the Louisiana
Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO
in New Orleans.
Rosé is produced with the skin contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period (one to three days). It’s then pressed and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact throughout fermentation (as with red wine making). In some instances, red wine is added to give it more color.

We smelled and tasted eight different types of rosé - five French, two Spanish and one from California. The wines were very different from each other. Some were very fragrant and light and others were full-bodied and substantial. There’s something for everyone within the rosé family. Not surprisingly, my favorite was the very floral and crisp American wine. Sarah’s favorite was a very interesting and different variety from the Txacoli region of Spain, with a fizzy quality. (According to Bon Appétit’s blog, “Beyond the Kitchen”, the snob factor of wines from this region is “off the charts.”)

During the class, Sommelier Sara encouraged us to say to the group what we smelled and tasted. I shared my opinion—chocolate and dirt—and Sarah offered grapefruit and licorice, among other noble descriptions. Some palates are more sophisticated than others.

However, Sommelier Sara assured us all that there were no wrong answers. She was a very knowledgeable and patient guide who assured us that what we smelled and tasted would always be right. Your own nose knows what you smell, right? She made an intimidating topic very accessible to those not familiar with a word like tannin, but still technical enough that other sommeliers could sit in and not be bored to death.

Sommelier Sara will also be presenting in the IDEA ZONE at the 59th Annual Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO August 12: “Does Your Nose Know? Wine Aromas Class with a Sommelier.”

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