Long before there was a state of celebration (debauchery?) known as “Rosé all Day”—in the same genus as the dulcet horrors of California White Zinfandel, cloying Mateus (a drunken high schooler’s favorite), and nefarious American Blush wine—I quenched my thirst with scrumptious pink-toned wines across Europe. These rosés were sometimes dry as sun-bleached bones, other times bursting with fruit, often bubble-gum pink and light as air—the sort ideal for afternoon meditation. Occasionally, there were the heavier and more complex examples, shimmering in ruby tones, and great with food.
From Spain (where I lived in Seville) to Italy, France, Austria, and beyond, I steadily developed a predilection for rosé. It went perfectly with a hot day in Andalusia or Provence, while nibbling a baguette and cheese on a train going anywhere, amid a carpet of sunflowers atop a blanket, or beside a glimmering pool. Always, the wine was local, usually made just down the road or in the village nearby. Each glass of rosé somehow made me feel a sense of belonging, as if I were sipping the community.
Rosé purportedly dates back to ancient times—possibly to the canny Greeks, who may have mixed white and red wine together, a method rarely used today. More often, in modern times, rosé production involves skin contact (from several hours to a few days) or saignée (the bleed off from red grapes, which gets vinified into rosé). Now still on the rise, rosé wasn’t so respected in decades past, perhaps because gastronomes failed to find it food worthy. But rosé was never meant to be taken seriously. Its very essence is the opposite. Rosé, in fact, is laughter, sun-dappled days, friendship, and good times. Rosé is art d’vivre—an homage to life. Here are a few current favorites for your summer shopping list.
The hilly, gravely, wildflower strewn Texas wine lands, just a short drive from Austin, manage to look a bit like Tuscany and the Languedoc in turns. It’s no surprise, then, that varietals from both Italy and France do well in this part of the Lone Star state. Made with Sangiovese from the Salt Lick Vineyards, The Duchman Family Winery Dry Rose ($24), made direct-to-press, has a light, cotton candy color. It’s balanced, with a bright, red-driven, lingering finish. Aromas of juicy red fruits lead to a palate of blackberry and strawberry, with exemplary acidity. A glass goes well with umami-invoking, spicy foods—think: fish/shrimp tacos with mushrooms.
Also crafted with grapes from the fertile Salt Lick Vineyard, the Grenache Rose from Fall Creek Vineyards ($30), made with hand-sorted, less ripe Grenache berries, brings to mind Côtes de Provence with its pale, pink grapefruit hue. Expect scents of white flowers, lemon zest, strawberry, and wet rocks. On the palate, the dry, medium bodied wine conjures berries, cherries, and a tinge of citrus. This wine packs enough punch to complement carnivore favorites like grilled sausages.
Hailing from the evergreen and oak-covered verges of Cote de Provence, just outside of St. Tropez, Ultimate Rosé Provence 2020 ($22) inhabits an ornate bottle as remarkable as its contents. Not just pleasing to pour, the azalea-colored wine, made from Syrah, Cinsault Noir, and Rolle (Vermentino), harvested in the cool hours of the night, is pressed quickly, before being aged for a few months in thermo-regulated, stainless steel vats. Its palate of intense floral and fruit forward aromas turn to round raspberry jam in the mouth, spiced with low notes of white pepper (from the Syrah) and a hint of holiday spices (pine, cinnamon) from the Rolle. Drink it al fresco with summer foods—grilled chicken, vegetable skewers, and shrimp.
Mirroring the fragrances of a Provencal garden in summer, Berne 2020 Inspiration Rosé ($20) offers flavors of strawberry, lavender, basil, and a hint of thyme. From Chateau de Berne, certified organic in 2021, this creamy wine expresses classic rosé qualities, with a bright pink harmony of balanced, fruity acidity. Tipple it with a plate of grilled lobster at the beach or pool.
A convivial cocktail wine, Berne Romance Rosé ($15) from the Southeast’s 1GP Mediterranee, summons lazy afternoons in a peach orchard, with its stone fruit expressions and silky, juicy texture. Pale pink like sunrise’s fleeting rosy lights, this wine hits at the front of the tongue, and smoothly melts down the gullet. Try it with red pepper-centric dishes—like Szechuan cuisine.
From New York
Eleven sliver-shaped glacial lakes compose the Finger Lakes in upstate New York, a vineyard and apple orchard-studded terrain with fertile, rocky soil. The deepest lakes manage to moderate the surrounding terrain’s temperatures, making grape growing (even varieties like Pinot Noir) possible. Created as a limited edition wine from Vin Social and the boutique, LEED Gold Certified Red Tail Ridge, the Cabernet Franc Rose 2020 ($26) a delightfully dry example of the region’s capabilities. Like a nosegay of summer flowers and fruits, the crisp wine tastes of watermelon and grapefruit, with just a trace of fresh mint on the nose. Sample lakeside in a swimsuit with fresh tomato bruschetta.
Pop open Villa Sandi’s Il Fresco Prosecco Doc Rose Millesimato 2020 ($17) to channel the enchantment of the Veneto. This festive aperitif wine from the Prosecco region begs to be shared with friends. Glera (the white Prosecco grape) and Pinot Nero (for an undertone of gravitas) constitute the wine’s base cuvée, which spends two months in vessel. Zesty at first, the satiny wine unveils an explosion of fruits and florals, especially pomegranate and rose petals in the mouth. Coppery pink in hue, this bubbly goes best with soft cheeses, finger foods, and desserts.