Descendents Liegeois Dupont Red Mountain Rosé Photo: Kim Fetrow
We are celebrating Rosé all month long and paying homage to this delectably quaffable beverage. We couldn’t do a celebration justice without going back to the roots of this pink drink.
The watered down beginning of Rosé would be something we, as wine drinkers of today, might scoff at. The ancient’s pale wine was the result of diluting red wine with water, and this was done for a couple of reasons. Water wasn’t the healthiest of beverages throughout history, so to avoid the precarious plight of “water might equal death” people added wine to their water to kill the bacteria that could cause many a malady. This water-wine mixture was, in fact, the healthiest way to stay hydrated. It was considered a staple of daily life and available to peasants, aristocrats, men, women, slaves and soldiers. Wine was truly life or death!
With all this wine drinking going on, dilution made the most sense, not only to make the water healthier, but also because it was believed that drinking undiluted wine would cause one to go mad! In her book Drink Pink. A Celebration of Rosé, Victoria James writes, “The Spartan King Cleomenes I, who was driven to insanity and eventually committed suicide in a prison cell, even claimed that drinking undiluted wine led to his downfall.” I am sure we have opened one or two bottles too many at some point and can certainly feel King Cleomenes pain. I would like to think, however, our undiluted pink wines of today make us more merry than mad!
Fast forward to 1938 and the first Rosé imported to the United States; to this we owe a debt of gratitude to Marcel Ott and his passion for pink! He held a degree in architectural engineering and was famous for his thorough research, attention to detail, great patience and discipline. After touring the wine regions of Southern France, he decided Provence would be the place he would put down his winemaking roots and Rosé would be the wine he would focus on. His son René designed the iconic Provence Rosé bottle that is still in use today. He patented the design and to this day, this bottle shape still bears on the bottom “Bouteille Ott Marque Deposée” which means “Bottle Ott Trademark.“