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Rosé Rendezvous in Sonoma County

In Sonoma County, it’s time for summer and it’s time to think, and drink, pink. When was the last time you had a good, cold, dry rosé, wine fans? There’s no reason to eschew this popular category because of associations you may have with “white Zinfandel” or some cheap “blush” wine from days past.

Quality rosé wines are nothing new, and they don’t come in just one flavor — every red wine varietal can be made into rosé, enjoyable fresh and soon, just a few months out from the vintage. But some varietals are more successful than others.

This week I sampled a few rosé wines from alternative varietals, including, yes, Zinfandel.

Pedroncelli 2013 Dry Creek Valley Dry Rosé of Zinfandel ($12)

Not that there’s anything wrong with white Zinfandel, a sweet version of rosé wine that’s often made from heavily cropped, Central Valley grapes, but this isn’t it.

With a nose of raspberry-crantini and watermelon candy, this full-flavored rosé wine is relatively dry. The winery calls this their “Signature Selection,” and claims a hint of cream soda in aroma. I tend to agree, adding that it’s almost a hint of toast.

With time, a sense of sweetness does build on the palate, although it’s just the enticing raspberry-strawberry fruit flavor and 13.2 percent alcohol content. Pedroncelli really came through with this simple, but solidly likable rosé wine.

Red Car 2013 Sonoma Coast Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25)

This wine is made as if it’s destined to be a sparkling blanc de noirs. It’s pressed from whole clusters, which is considered to be the gentler method, and aged in stainless steel tanks and older oak barrels. The color just hints at salmon-pink, but the aroma is rich with strawberries and cream, rose blossom, and orange sherbet.

Super dry and acidic, it does seem like a “brut natural” Champagne at first! But as deceptively light-colored as it is, it is a complex, quality rosé wine, worth exploring if you like both sparkling wine and still Pinot Noir. 12.7 percent abv.

Alexander Valley Vineyards 2013 Dry Rosé of Sangiovese ($14)

Some Sonoma County producers call their Sangiovese rosé “Rosato,” in the Italian style. I would call this “grassy,” after the New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc style.

Every palate is different, of course, so some tasters may enjoy this as “spicy.” For me, though, the out-of-whack terpenes just remind me of the difficulty California growers have had with Sangiovese. 13.2 percent abv.

Enjoy cold, dry rosé of all kinds with almonds, crackers and mild cheeses like Bellwether Farms Carmody, or try this salad, courtesy of Pedroncelli Winery & Vineyards.


Caesar Salad with Rock Shrimp

Serves 4



Take one half of a day old baguette or other sourdough French bread and slice up into ½ inch cubes. Spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake in oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool and set aside.

Caesar Salad:

  • 1 head of romaine lettuce
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 anchovy fillets (packed in oil, drained) See note.
  • ½ lemon
  • 2 t Dijon mustard
  • 1 large egg yolk (See note)
  • 1 t Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ t Tabasco
  • 4 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • 1 pound shelled raw rock shrimp
  • 1 T Olive Oil


Cut ½ inch from the top and bottom of the romaine and rinse in cold water a couple of times to remove dirt. Cut in half and then in quarters, roll in paper towels to dry. Slice crosswise in about 1 inch strips. Wrap in paper towels if too moist. Place in large bowl.

Peel garlic. Drop garlic and anchovies (optional) down the chute of a food processor with motor running. Juice the lemon half. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add 2 tablespoons of the lemon juice, the mustard, egg yolk, Worcestershire, Tabasco, cheese, salt and pepper to taste. With motor running, gradually add the olive oil through the chute until the dressing is combined.

Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large heavy skillet over high heat. Add the shrimp and season with salt and pepper. Cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing a few times to cook evenly, just until the shrimp firm up and the color changes.

Add the dressing to the romaine lettuce and toss well. Add the croutons and toss. Put the salad on individual plates and spread the cooked shrimp evenly on top. Serves four.

Note from Pedroncelli:

“I do two things differently in this recipe: If you do not want to add the anchovy, increase the Worcestershire sauce to 1 tablespoon. If you do not want to add the egg yolk, use ¼ c egg substitute or two additional teaspoons of Dijon mustard.”

Find more info about wine and wineries in Sonoma County.

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