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Everything is Coming Up Rosés

Apr 03, 2017 03:04PM ● By Maria Terry

After months of rain, the sun has returned to California. Hooray! It’s time for flowers, sunshine, and pretty pink wine.

Pink wines come from many different places in the world and can be made from a variety of grapes. They range from very sweet to bone dry and from barely pink to light red. Generally, they are not aged in oak and have red fruit flavors like strawberry and raspberry. They are best served very cold and are the perfect refreshment on a balmy spring day. Choose your favorite style of rosé to go with Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes, and Honey. This delicious starter will transport you to a hillside overlooking the beautiful vineyards of your favorite California wine region. The sweet grapes contrast the pungent blue cheese, and a drizzle of honey brings it all together. The salty flavor of the cheese will highlight any sweetness in the wine. Or, if you choose a drier wine, the snappy acidity will cleanse your palate from the fat in the cheese.

Whether you like them sweeter or drier, rosés can be made three ways. In the first method, a winemaker allows the juice to sit with its skins for a short period of time, absorbing a touch of the color from the skins into the clear juice. This usually results in a lighter colored wine. Second, a winemaker blends red and white wines together, creating the exact taste and color desired. Lastly, a winemaker runs off some of the juice from a red wine early in the fermentation process. The winemaker gets two benefits from this technique. The wine that is left behind is intensely flavored and colored. The wine that is removed is a bonus wine. It is called saignée, from the French word for bleeding. As expected, saignées tend to be darker in color because they start out as red wines. They are usually very flavorful and fuller in body than the other two styles. For these reasons, saignée is a great choice for Grilled Lamb Chops with Herbs. The extra flavor stands up to the gamey chops and pungent herbs. Plus, the fuller body matches the density of the meat.

Finish the evening with a rustic Italian Strawberry Tart. The fruit pressed into dough will feel like a bookend to your starter. Choose a slightly sweet pink sparkler to pair with this not-too-sweet dessert. The strawberry flavor and color in the wine are spot on with the tart. Together they will be a delightful end to your day in the sun.

So, go on. Pair Up!


Maria Terry is a Certified Sommelier and Wine Educator in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Rosemary Flatbread with Blue Cheese, Grapes, and Honey



1 envelope active dry yeast

2 tablespoons sugar

2 cups bread flour, plus more for rolling

3/4 cup warm water

2 teaspoons chopped rosemary

1/2 teaspoon fine salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 pound red grapes (1 1/2 cups)

Coarse sea salt

3 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon snipped chives




In a large bowl, whisk the yeast and sugar with 1/4 cup of the flour. Stir in 1/4 cup of the warm water and let stand until slightly foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rosemary, fine salt, pepper, and the remaining 1 3/4 cups of flour and 1/2 cup of water; stir until a dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth, about 5 minutes. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise in a draft-free spot until billowy and doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°. Place a pizza stone in the bottom of the oven, and preheat for at least 30 minutes.


Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Press and stretch the dough into a 13-inch round, then transfer to a lightly floured pizza peel. Press the grapes into the dough and sprinkle with sea salt.


Slide the flatbread onto the hot stone and bake for about 12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the grapes have begun to release some of their juices. Sprinkle the blue cheese on top and bake for about 2 minutes longer, until the cheese melts. Slide the flatbread onto a work surface and drizzle with the honey and sprinkle with the chives.


Yield: 4 servings


Grilled Lamb Chops with Herbs


2 large garlic cloves, crushed

1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

Pinch cayenne pepper

Coarse sea salt

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

6 lamb chops, about 3/4-inch thick



In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, cayenne, and salt. Pulse until combined. Pour in olive oil and pulse into a paste. Rub the paste on both sides of the lamb chops and let them marinate for at least one hour in the refrigerator. Remove from refrigerator and allow the chops to come to room temperature; it will take about 20 minutes.


Grill chops on BBQ or grill pan over high heat for about 2 minutes. Cook on the other side for another 3 minutes for medium-rare and 3 1/2 minutes for medium.


Yield: 6 chops


Italian Strawberry Tart


1 1/2 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 tablespoons whole milk

1 pint strawberries, hulled and cut in half, plus additional whole strawberries for garnish (optional)

Fresh whipped cream (optional)



Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a spring-form pan.


Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.


In a separate bowl, beat the butter and the sugar. Add the eggs and milk. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and stir by hand until just moistened. Do not over mix.


Spread the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Press strawberry halves deeply into the dough in a circular pattern of 2 or 3 rings. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream and whole strawberries, if desired.


Yield: 6-8 servings