One beautiful sunny summer day 11 years ago, while sitting in a little bistro in a small village overlooking the Mediterranean in the south of France, I tasted my first glass of a Provençal rosé wine. The moment I breathed in the fragrance of it—the grass, the flowers, the fruit, the slight minerality—I started to understand and really appreciate the difference between red and white wines, and what can happen in between. At that moment, I became a devout fan, and rosé is now my favorite warm weather wine.
For a long time, you were hard pressed to find any good rosés to speak of in the U.S. Besides a few expensive Tavels, there were the ubiquitous California jug or box blush wines that had been around for years (bleh!), and the too-sweet-for-me tasting white zinfandels, but there was nothing affordable that was representative of the true nature of a good dry rosé.
Thankfully, rosés can be found everywhere today. I love it dry or as a sparkler, spring through fall. It’s just the right way to toast the blossoming of spring, paired with fresh spring vegetables like asparagus and artichokes. I love it in the summer with all kinds of light pasta dishes, fish and shellfish, turkey burgers, pork, grilled meats and chicken, veggies, summer salads and of course, mussels. You name it, it goes with it. To me, a good rosé strikes just the perfect balance between the flavor and body of fruit-forward red wines, but with the light and refreshing taste and mouth feel of a dry white wine. Generally rosés are meant to be drunk “young” so you will usually start seeing last year’s vintage in the current market starting about April-May. And the beautiful colors…from palest salmon to a deep blush of pink, it makes me happy just thinking about it! I always keep a bottle of it in my fridge.
There are so many rosés to choose from that it can be confusing, in part because the same style of wine can also be known as a rosato (Italy) or a rosado (Spain), depending on origin. I’ve had some really good Spanish, Italian, and California versions, as well as the fabulous French. And, I’ve even had a pretty good rosé from our own North Georgia Frogtown Cellars (see my post on a few favorite things about summer and wine tours in N. GA, for more info). One of the really great things about the recent popularity of this wine is that you can now find people making their versions all over the country and all over the world, and a lot of them are quite good.
Here are a few of my faves I’ve found locally so far this year, all under $18, because that tends to be where I live on a day to day sort of basis. I prefer the bone-dry to slightly off-dry style of these wines, and this list reflects that. I hope at some point this summer you’ll give one of these rosés—or one by another name—a try, and enjoy a little taste of the sweet life.
Chateau des Annibals 2010
Coteaux Varois Cuvee Suivez-moi Jeune Homme Rosé, Provence, France ($17)
The palest classic salmon color, aromas of peach, fruit forward, dry and light bodied, peach and orange blossom flavors, crisp finish, made from Cinsault and Grenache grapes (Sherlock’s Wine Merchants)
Vin de Pays du Var Rosé Domaine de Triennes 2010, Provence, France ($14)
Light salmon color, taste of red fruits, very dry, aromatic, luxurious blend of Cinsault, Syrah, Grenache, and Merlot grapes (Sherlock’s Wine Merchants)
Chateau Mourgues du Gres Galets Rosé 2010
Costieres de Nimes, Rhone, France ($14)
Deep warm pink color, warm and intense cherry, casis and wild fruit flavors, medium body, crisp (Decatur Package Store)
2010 Domaine Houchart Rosé, Côtes de Provence, France ($11)
This wine is a great and economical choice to enter the world of rosé.
Salmon colored, dry, floral, dark fruit, spicy and peppery, a lively wine made from Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre grapes (Sherlock’s Wine Merchants and Decatur Package Store)
…and when you can find it, give this one a try:
Presto Brut Rose Prosecco (Italy) ($10)
Bright, crisp, melon and honey, refreshing dry summer sparkler (Whole Foods)
For more information about what a rosé wine is and how it’s made (generally from red wine grapes), see this brief synopsis at Terroir France.