Rosé wines (“pink” or “blush” wines) are some of the most underrated and overlooked wines in the United States. As main dietary staples in Provence these wines offer a crisp, acidic yet mildly sweet flavor that pairs very well with nutrient-rich Mediterranean foods like fresh vegetables, olive oil, and fish. In spite of being an avid wine drinker and one who follows a Mediterranean-style diet, I too am guilty of undervaluing rosé wines, often limiting myself to reds and whites.
Not any more!
A while back, I had the pleasure of attending the Provence in the City – Trade & Media Wine Tasting held at the Pump Room in Chicago’s Public Hotel. This is an invitation-only event held annually in selected cities across the United States. To my surprise, the event proved to be a true celebration of Provence rosés mingled with sweet and savory yet nutrient-dense food pairings, underscoring the potential health-enhancing benefits of Mediterranean living.
Rosés account for the vast majority of Provence’s wine production with over 1,000 types produced in this region.
Representatives of over 30 wineries in the south of France, showcased their rosés at the Trade & Media Wine Tasting with more than 100 varieties available for sampling. Unfortunately, I only made it around to 25 of them. Still, I had the opportunity to gain valuable insight on specific winemaking ingredients and practices from the Provence wine manufacturers themselves.
Similar to red and white wines, rosés are produced by fermenting juice extracted from crushed grapes with their skins intact.
A brewer’s yeast is used to convert the sugar in grapes to ethyl alcohol (ethanol) with carbon dioxide as a byproduct. Depending on the length of the fermentation process and the resultant taste profile, rosés are classified as dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet, or sweet.
Provence rosé wines offer a rich supply of health-promoting components.
While red wine is commonly touted for its many health-enhancing benefits, you’re rarely told about the possible advantages of drinking other types of wine, especially rosés.
In fact, whether consumed in red or Rosé wines, ethyl alcohol has been shown to greatly boost immunity, improve cardiovascular function, alleviate inflammation, lower blood glucose, and reduce the risk of several types of cancer.
Interestingly, this holds true of all ethanol-containing beverages including beer.
In addition to ethanol, red and rosé wines both house non-alcoholic components that act as potent antioxidants. Throughout the fermentation process polyphenol compounds called proanthocyanidins (condensed tannins) are extracted from the skin and seeds of grapes, specifically those that are dark in color. Grenache and cinsault are primary grapes traditionally used for Provence rosés and both exhibit a very deep purple color with correspondingly high polyphenol concentrations.
Polyphenols in general have been shown to prevent and, in some cases, reverse atherosclerosis, which is the major precursor of heart disease. They primarily work by supporting the function and overall structural integrity of blood vessels in ways that help regulate blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels. Of all the wine classifications, drier Provence rosés have the highest content of polyphenols due to longer exposure to grape skins.
When compared to red wines, Provence rosés have some nutritional shortcomings. Despite their numerous health benefits, rosés fall behind reds in some nutrients, namely the polyphenol resveratrol. Resveratrol itself has been shown to lower blood glucose through the regulation of insulin, which helps in both the prevention and management of diabetes. Proper regulation of insulin also reduces the likelihood of obesity by preventing visceral (belly) fat accumulation and overall weight gain.
Resveratrol is extremely dense in the skins of dark grapes. While rosés are produced with dark grapes, the skins are removed quite early during the production process so their resveratrol content is much lower. On the flip side, red wines contain the highest levels of this health-promoting antioxidant because they are fully fermented with the skins.
But, interestingly, many of the rosés I sampled at the Trade & Media Wine Tasting were blended with Cabernets, Pinot Noir, and other red wines. Some American wines (White Zinfandel) are blended this way as well, which allows you to reap some of the health-promoting benefits of this powerful antioxidant. However, my advice is that you regularly consume both red and rosé wine varieties in moderation for maximum disease-fighting power.
Provence rosés pair very well with a Mediterranean diet. The Mediterranean diet has been deemed as one of the healthiest eating plans for disease prevention, weight loss, and weight management for prevention of weight gain. Traditionally, the Mediterranean diet emphasizes a high intake of healthy monounsaturated fats including olive oil and nuts supplemented by an even higher consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
While attending the Trade & Media Wine Tasting I indulged in a wide range of Mediterranean foods paired with numerous varieties of rosés.
The result was an explosion of flavor, as these acidic wines really brought the foods to life. I particular enjoyed combining different rosés with fresh vegetables, olive-oil based foods like hummus, savory pastas, chicken, and seafoods like white fish and tuna.
From this point forward, these wines will be a regular inclusion in my diet.
In my opinion, rosés are by far the most distinct of all wines, as they tend to take on the fruity qualities of semi-sweet and sweet whites with the rich, pungent taste of drier reds.
So, if you’re looking to make the leap from whites to reds, you’ll definitely enjoy Provence rosés, as manufacturers often blend them with Rieslings, Gewürztraminer, and Muscat (Moscato). Rosés are also a great choice for weight watchers. When compared to reds and whites they tend to be the lowest in total calories.
Learn more about Provence wines, Mediterranean living, and everything you ever wanted to know about travel to France here.
Pick up a copy of Leaving Your Fat Behind and learn what it takes to achieve and maintain good health through weight control.
Disclaimer: The information provided is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Any reader who is concerned about his or her health should contact a physician for advice.