Event Highlight: The Great Rosé Pairing for Summer

By V. Sheree Williams

No other wine says summer in my eyes than rosé.  It doesn’t matter which grapes you choose to make it with, the result is always crisp and refreshing.  A great rosé is definitely one of my favorite wines, not just during the summer for all year long.

Earlier this month, we joined rosé lovers in Napa at the new CIA at Copia.  The Culinary Institute of America provided the perfect backdrop for a beautiful day paired with award-winning wines from the Experience Rose – The 2018 Competition and gourmet cuisine created and presented by emerging star chef students from the CIA.  This was the first year that the organizers of the competition hosted a consumer event and the CIA’s first external wine event since becoming the new occupant of the former Copia center in October 2016.

Rosé is having its moment right now in the wine industry as many winemakers are adding their own offering to their portfolios. When asked to describe the perfect rosé, Craig Palmer, co-founder of Experience Rosé, says, “The ultimate perfection of rosé is how adaptable it is to so many different palates. All one has to do is savor in the rainbow of colors one finds in rosés to see the possibilities.  Flavor profiles vary with the grape and that spectrum of fruit and blends runs from robust cabernets and pinots, to earthy Rhones, to Italian varietals like sangiovese, even nebbiolo and barbera… we’re even seeing rosé of turiga and tannat.”   This year’s Best in Show winner was Draxton Winery with a rosé made from pinot meunier, a varietal that is part of Champagne’s big three.

Conceptualized two years ago and tested in 2017, Palmer says The Great Rosé Pairing event is focused on excellence and only pairing wines that have earned a gold or above standing in the competition with creations from the CIA’s emerging chefs.

The theme of excellence was on full display as attendees walked around tasting award-winning wines from 25 wineries that included Domaine Laurier, Handley Cellars and Lazy Creek Vineyards. The variety of rosés was amazing with selections that included a rosé of grenache, rosé of pinot noir, a brut rosé, cabernet sauvignon rosé, sangiovese rosé and rosé of chambourcin.

To make things interesting, six culinary teams representing Spain, France, Italy and Center, Northern and Southern California competed for the winning dish as voted by attendees with the drop of a bingo chip.  In the end, Team Spain took home the honor with a carefully constructed octopus bite, Pulpo de Maria alla Coggiola.

Students in CIA’s beverage program also got in on the fun as two teams mixed and shaken cocktails and refreshers featuring Hangar 1 Rosé Vodka. Both teams in the end claimed the honors with Team 2 winning top cocktail honors with their Summer Mule and Team 1’s refresher, Stop and Smell the Rose, keeping the afternoon cool.

If you missed out June’s event, mark your calendar for Friday, October 19 as Jaxon Keys Winery and Distillery in Hopland (Mendocino County) will host The Great Rosé Pairing for Thanksgiving. The event will feature seasonal bites by Nicholas Petti, culinary arts instructor at Mendocino College, along with his talented students to showcase perfect rosé pairings for holiday dinners and celebrations. This event exclusively features rosés produced in the Hopland and Redwood Valley regions of inland Mendocino County.

For more information about The Great Rosé Pairing for Summer and The Great Rosé Pairing for Thanksgiving, visit www.rosewinetoday.com.

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