When it comes to outdoor entertaining in the height of summer, our minds immediately go to backyard cookouts and casual porch-sipping wines.
However, this year more than ever, that classic all-America imagery is being updated with a decidedly pink twist. Rosé is hot right now. And we’re not talking about that cheap sugar-bomb known as White Zin. Today’s rosés offer sophisticated flavors of herbs and dry fruit. Based on the grape used and the amount of time the skins interact with the juice, its colors range from pale salmon to dark magenta.
The French have long known the virtues of rosé and drink it year-round. However, wineries across the globe are taking notice as consumers clamor for the new wine of summer. Sales have grown in double digits over the past decade due to rosé’s affordability and versatility. Since this wine pairs easily with food, they are a great option when entertaining with friends.
Easy outdoor entertaining is exactly what we set out to achieve on a recent summer night. We put together a small group of five couples and asked each to bring a dish that paired with rosé. Then, we selected an assortment of wines that highlighted different regions, flavors and color profiles of our featured wine style. By delegating responsibilities, we took the stress out of the evening for any one couple — a key component to the best casual summer gatherings.
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The menu included lamb chops rubbed with a fresh rosemary paste. The meat is more delicate than beef, yet more flavorful than chicken. Plus, the lollipop size of the chops are ideal for mingling parties and the rosemary flavor pairs perfectly with herbal notes of most rosés.
Hot ham and Swiss sliders were filled with a compound butter of Dijon mustard, chopped onion and parsley before being wrapped individually in foil and baked. Each ingredient of the sandwich played an important role. The mustard added a savory component; parsley delivered herb notes; and the Swiss and butter delivered a creamy fat content.
Smoked salmon rolls with caper-studded cream cheese offered rich flavors and textures to complement the wine, while a fresh caprese salad delivered colorful zest of summer. Grilled vegetables, simply prepared in olive oil, salt and pepper delivered an earth essence that drew out the herbal notes in the wine and the char from the grill acted as a balance to the fruit. A crowd-pleasing artisan meat and cheese platter brought fatty and savory notes that enhanced the acidity of the rosé.
We rounded out the meal with homemade fruit tarts. The natural sweetness offered a light end to the night. While the fresh fruit pulled out the prominent flavors of the rosé, its creamy custard base balanced its acidity.
Commanderie de la Bargemone — Provence 2014
Quintessential dry rosé reminiscent of what the French drink year-round. Flavors of pink grapefruit, thyme, rosemary and freshly picked strawberries.
Gramercy Cellars — Columbia Valley, Wash. 2014
Provencal-style from the new world. Gramercy uses similar grapes, but very different expression. It proves that Washington State can’t be ignored.
Dandelion Vineyards — Barossa, Australia 2014
Many only think of Shiraz and Yellow Tail when it comes to Aussie wine. However, this is the kind of juice that is really shining down under. A Grenache rosé offering flavors of strawberry, rhubarb and herbs d’provence.
Parusso — Piedmont, Italy 2014
The most famous wines from this region are costly reds like Barbaresco or Barolo. However, this wine offers an exciting way to experience Nebbiolo grapes in a different way since rosé doesn’t require the same costly aging techniques.
Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel — Sonoma, Calif. 2014
This is not the White Zin of the 1980s that your mom slugged back on the porch with her friends. Think of it as the sophisticated big brother. Pedroncelli acts as a bridge between its syrupy siblings of the past and today’s drier up-and-comers by offering just a hint of sweetness alongside juicy fruit flavors.
•Diversify your guest list. Our gathering’s attendees spanned five decades in age. It’s a refreshing change of pace that everyone enjoys.
•Encourage your guests to wear pink. Even the guys. Real men wear pink, gents. Get with the program.
•Don’t stress out about wine selections. Visit your favorite wine shop and let the experts select a rosé that is ideal for your budget and menu.
•Ask your guests to submit a few song titles for your summer playlist. The culmination of various musical backgrounds delivers an eclectic playlist that offers something for everyone.
•“Could This Be Love,” Bob Marley
•“I Only Have Eyes For You,” Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
•“Mambo Italiano,” Rosemary Clooney
•“Moon Dance,” Van Morrison
•“Empire State of Mind,” Jay Z feat. Alicia Keys
•“Get Up (I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine),” James Brown
•“Take a Walk,” Passion Pit
•“Harvest Moon,” Poolside
•“Who is Fancy,” Goodbye
•“Can’t Rely on You,” Paloma Faith
•“Number 1,” Goldfrapp
•“Cheek to Cheek,” Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga
•“Love on Top,” Beyoncé
•“Heavy Cross,” The Gossip
•“Bulletproof,” La Roux
•“Let’s Have A Kiki,” Scissor Sisters
•“Imma Be,” Black Eyed Peas
•“Sway,” Dean Martin
•“Lie To Me,” Jonny Lang
•“Love Never Felt So Good,” Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake