Photograph by Joe St.Pierre
Stroll around the cafés in Southern France on a summer afternoon and you cannot help but notice a lovely bottle of pink wine on ice at every table. This is not your grandmother’s white zinfandel or sweet wine cooler, it is a rosé, a wine that distinguishes itself by drawing upon the refreshing qualities of a dry white wine while offering some of the bold characteristics and tints of red wine.
Not all rosé wines taste alike. A pleasing rosé offers fresh fruit flavors, perhaps citrus and strawberry, good acidity, and a clean crisp finish. Some have even more flavors such as melon and raspberry, with minerality and a touch of earth—and they vary from semi-dry to dry. Rosé wine is lower in alcohol, making the wine easier to drink, especially during the day. Rosé should be consumed from recent vintages (2 to 4 years old) and chilled, allowing the flavors to burst open in your mouth.
The French in particular have been enjoying rosé for centuries: Look for a rosé from Provence, France. The famous names Bandol and Tavel can be pricey but others offer great value. Delicious examples can be found from all over the world. During the past decade, the original French and European style rosé has been and continues to be produced here in the United States. Wine consumers have appreciated this wine in increasing numbers. Fashionable and easy to find, American rosés are receiving accolades for their style and quality.
On a warm summer day, nothing is more satisfying than a well-chilled rosé. Here are my recommendations. These rosés can be found in and around New Hampshire or online.
2010 Domaine La Suffrène Bandol Rosé
This true rosé with all the characteristics of a Bandol is a blend of Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Grenache, and Carignan grapes. This is a full, smooth wine that lingers on the taste buds. It is as much a dinner wine as it is an aperitif. It plays extremely well with Mediterranean fish stews, grilled tuna, spicy Thai, simple arugula salads, or all by itself!
2009 Château d’Aquéria Tavel
This winery is one of the largest and oldest estates in Southern France. The rosé, made from Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Clarette grapes, has a beautiful coral color with intense fruit and fresh peppery aromas. The wine has vibrant, ripe raspberry flavors, good acidity, and a refreshing long, dry finish. Serve with salads, calamari, and shrimp.
2010 Merriam Vineyards Rosé
Produced in Sonoma, California, and made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, this rosé shows a pretty transparent salmon color. The wine is dry with smoky notes and flavors of cranberry and raspberry, a full-bodied wine with a long finish. Great served with grilled chicken and salmon or spicy Asian foods.
2009 Crios by Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec
Made by Susana Balbo, a world-renowned winemaker in Argentina for over 20 years. Produced from Malbec grapes in Mendoza, an area famous for outstanding Malbec. A beautiful, deep, vibrant, rose color. Wonderful aromas and flavors of ripe wild strawberries and cherries, along with some herbal notes and a clean, dry finish. Ideal with chicken, or yellow fin tuna, shrimp, sushi, and a great choice for paella. An incredible value.
2010 Bonny Doon Vineyard Vin Gris de Cigare Rosé
The color and dryness match a traditional French rosé. Made from Grenache, Roussanne, and Grenache Blanc grapes, with a touch of white wine added. Aromas of wild strawberry, cherry, apple blossom, and hints of mint with tastes of cranberry, blood orange, and citrus lead to a supple finish. Drink alone or with salmon, salads, and cheeses.
2010 Angove Nine Vines Rosé
A favorite from Australia, this rosé is made from Grenache and Shiraz grapes. There are aromas of ripe banana and strawberry with flavors of raspberry and bubble gum. Serve with pizza and burgers.
2010 TINT Rosé Lighter Shade of Pale
Produced in Paso Robles, California, this vintage contains exciting French grape varieties—Cinsault for luscious fruit, Grenache for steely body, Mourvèdre for funk and texture. A move toward classic southern French minerality makes this the perfect porch wine.