I think it’s hilarious. Every year, when the sun stays out for more than a few hours, one of my friends changes into the ‘Taste of Summer’ monster. So when offered a beer he responds “It’s summer-time, I need something lighter and fruitier – maybe with bubbles.”
I have figured out over the years that, with this phrase he is not referring to cocktails but to a Rosé (preferably from Province in France) or a Sparkling wine (anything from Spanish Cava, Italian Prosecco or French Champagne).
Why am I sharing this with you? Well, Green Acres welcomed its newest addition to the sparkling wine family recently and our ‘Taste of Summer’ monster was first to taste it. The Prosecco in question is Sant Ambroeus, an extra dry sparkling wine. I would pair it with shellfish, any vegetarian dish, with appetisers and snacks, with cured meat or just have as an aperitif– and yes the Monster adored it. We will be retailing it at €20 per bottle.
So, inspired by my friend and the fact that the sun is splitting the stones here in the sunny South-East of Ireland, I want to write about some of my favourite summer tipples.
Cool, Refreshing and Calming Prosecco and Rosé
In this post, I am going to concentrate on Prosecco and Rosé. Some people dismiss these drinks as being peculiar wines best drank on hot days as opposed to a beer. But I can assure you that they are the real deal and I want to share why they are, in the rest of this post.
People are right, of course, there is something refreshing and easy-to-drink about a chilled glass of rosé or sparkling wine out in the garden in the sunshine. But to my mind, populist opinion often degrades both options as a cheap and cheerful quaff rather than stand-alone quality drinks to be enjoyed.
The reputation of both may have been damaged in the past by the production of cheap and sweet versions but in recent years this has changed. Prosecco now outsells Champagne globally and Rosé is the preferred tipple of the Millennial generation.
Oh, and just to set the record straight – I enjoy a cocktail too. Bring on the cool Mimosas, Sangrias, Daiquiris, Margaritas, and Mojitos, my palate has a place for them all.
Prosecco – An outline and some things you may not know about it.
Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy around the city of Treviso, (just north of Venice). It is made with the Glera grape and is produced using a method called the ‘Tank Method’. It is this method that differentiates it from Champagne and also what makes it more affordable. I would describe its style as being light bodied and low in alcohol (ABV of about 11%).
To give you a general taste profile of prosecco I would be mentioning green apple, honeydew melon, pear, honeysuckle, and cream. Usually, Prosecco is sold at two different levels of fizziness i.e. frizzante (fizzy), spumante (fully sparkling). The Green Acres one mentioned above is spumante (bigger bubbles).
Here are a few things that you might not have known about Prosecco:
- The glera grape, whilst not as well-known as other white varietals, dates back to Roman times
- There is a town called Prosecco (it is debated whether this is from where the grape originated)
- There is a grading for Prosecco – basic, D.O.C and D.O.C.G. but sparkling wines outside the designated region cannot be called Prosecco.
- Champagne is made using the ‘Traditional Method’ (2nd fermentation in the bottle) rather than Prosecco’s ‘Tank Method’ (2nd fermentation in steel tanks).
- The original Bellini Cocktail (Harry’s Bar in Venice) used Prosecco not Champagne
- Not all Prosecco is bubbly. We mentioned frizzante and spumante above but there is a third one which is entirely still – called ‘tranquill’.
Rose – An outline and some things you may not know about it.
When I talk about rose, I am referring to the French version. On your holidays you might have come across it as Rosado in Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries and Rosato in Italy. This pink wine does not have its own grape varietal instead it is derived from almost any style of red grapes.
The secret to its colour is the length of time the fermenting wine is allowed in contact with the skins of the red grapes. Where some red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, rosé wines are stained red for just a few hours. The winemaker has complete control over the colour of the wine and removes the red grape skins when the wine reaches the colour they desire.
There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact, saignée, and blending.There are three major ways to produce rosé wine: skin contact, saignée, and blending. #yeswayrosé Click To Tweet
Skin Contact (Maceration method)
The maceration method is when red wine grapes are let to rest, or macerate in the juice for a period of time (around 2-20 hrs), and afterward, the entire batch of juice is finished into a rosé wine. The maceration method is the probably the most common type of rosé we see available and is used in regions like Provence and the Languedoc-Roussillon region in France.
Saignée (Bled method)
This is when during the first few hours of making a red wine, some of the juice is bled off and put into a new vat to make rosé. The purpose of bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely rosé but it also concentrates the red wines’ intensity. This method is not as popular as the skin contact method due to the volume that can be produced.
Simply, this is where a little bit of red wine is added to a vat of white wine to make rosé. It doesn’t take much red wine to dye a white wine pink so usually, these wines will have up to 5% or so, of a red wine added. This is an uncommon method (actually it is forbidden in France except in Champagne).
Styles of Rosé
There are three main styles of rosé that you might encounter when shopping around.
- Elegant Style; light in body, crisp, refined in flavour and low in alcohol
- Bold Style; fuller in body, less crisp and bolder in flavour (maybe slightly higher in alcohol)
- Bubbly; a sparkling wine which the bubbles help to reinforce the flavour and texture
As alluded to above, a number of different types of red grapes can be used to make the above styles. Grapes you might see on the label include Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Grenache, Cinsault and of course Cabernet.
One caveat – Rosé wines are best enjoyed young (within say, 2 years) but the odd Rosé from good Bordeaux Chateaux can last a bit longer. Also, Rosés range from very pale pink to deep magenta. The depth of colour is no indication of the intensity of its flavour but rather the style that the winemaker prefers.
Storing wine during the summer
If you are to serve wines at their best during the summer months here are 6 important considerations:
- Whilst wine will keep in the fridge after opening, only leave it there (closed) for the maximum of a week.
- Direct sunshine and heat are not a wines friend.
- Fridges are for preserving food and are too dry for long-term wine storage.
- An ideal temperature to store any wine you plan to keep is 13°.
- 4° is a nice chill temperature to serve your whites, rosés, and proseccos.
- Stemless glasses aren’t really great for the summer outdoors as the heat from your hand will take all that lovely chill away from your refreshing drink.
So, to summarise, Prosecco and Rosé are not just for Instagram, they are serious wines to be enjoyed like other reds and whites. Although I am a proponent of year-round prosecco and rosé enjoyment, I do appreciate that a glass of either, chilled, is a perfect accompaniment to summer. Their crisp, refreshing nature is a great way to keep cool, pairs well with summer cuisine, and are fun to drink.
Enjoy the summer, the sunshine, the friends, and the wine.
Thank you for reading our blog. Feel free to drop-in to us here in Green Acres and we’ll help you choose from our new prosecco Sant Ambroeus and our selection of rosés.. Also, if you’d like to receive future blog posts from us, directly to your email, just ‘click’ here.
We look forward to engaging with you again soon – Cheers, James.