Most wine drinkers have heard of (and drank plenty of) rosé, the French wine that most often hails from Provence. However, despite similarities in color, it’s a world of difference from Italy’s rosato. You’ll find Italian rosato throughout the entire country, Chiaretto del Garda, Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo and rosato. With the first production of the stuff occurred in Puglia thanks to an American general from WWII, as the story is told.
Rosato gets that splendid pink color from leaving the red skins of the grape to mingle with the fermenting juice of the grapes for a spell. This allows the grape skins to bleed that stunning color into the concentration. That’s why you’ll see French rosé, Italian rosato and even Spanish rosado take on a variety of brilliant shades of pink. It all depends on the length of time the grape skins are incorporated into the wine.
While it is made in different regions of Italy, rosato is arguably made best in Puglia, which is located in the south. On a map, you’d find it in the heel of the famed boot-shaped country. Here, the weather remains mostly hot and sunny, making for ideal conditions to create spectacular rosato. Pulian rosatos can be remarkably interesting and delightful.
It all began with Charles Poletti, an American General who, prior to WWII, served as the Governor of New York. As an Italian-American, he was appointed to a position as a Civil Affairs Officer based on his Italian language skills and knowledge of Italian culture. While in Italy, he found himself in Puglia, and even more luckily for Poletti, he met with the owner of the Leone de Castris family winery, a man by the name of Piero. While much history happened in 1943, wine history has it that Piero gave Poletti a bottle of rosato.
And the rest was history, as it turns out. Poletti adored the wine and wanted to take it back to America with him but during these trying times for the world, these bottles were very rare and shipping these things is not like it is today. So Poletti and Piero thought a bit and discovered that they could use the empty beer bottles that the other American soldiers had strewn about. That’s how this rosato, named Five Roses, was the first to be bottled in Italy and exported to America in bottles that didn’t match. Today, Five Roses, is mostly, 90%, Negroamaro and blended with Malvasia Nero Lecce. Both of these grapes are native to Italy.
If you like pink, you’ll love rosato. As the shades of pink vary, they indicate
the flavors you’ll experience. For example, a darker rosato, like one from Puglia, will have more body and be more intensive in fruitiness. Lighter or darker, they have a crisp and refreshing feeling to them, making them ideal for hot weather. Think pool party, backyard barbecue, or even air-conditioned brunch overlooking the city below. There’s one for every budget, and you’ll easily find fabulous offerings under $20.
Rosato is versatile too in that you can serve it in the afternoon as well as in the evening with dinner too. It’s bright, tart, savory and juicy all at once with distinctive hits of strawberry, cherry and cranberry married with melon and a component of jasmine. Complex, yet relaxed, it’s the ideal match for grilled dishes, salads (particularly those adorned with fruits), or even pizza. Or, forgo the food and simply savor it as is, ideally from a comfortable lounge chair overlooking your infinity pool.