Spring rings in the best season of all—rosé season. Time to dust off the sandals, put on shorts or a sundress, find a sunny patio and pop the cork on a rose wine. Today, it seems every winemaker is crafting a rose—and why not? it’s a playful refreshing offering that goes well with food but can easily stand alone. The best news about rosé in these inflationary times is the price as these wines continue to be marvelous values. Here’s what you need to know before you head to the wine store:
- Rosé can be made from any red grape anywhere in the world. Some of the world’s finest examples of rosé come from France’s Provence, Tavel and Anjou regions. The most common varieties used to make rosé are: Grenache, cinsault, mourvedre, syrah, carignan, and pinot noir.
- Skin in the Game: Rosé wines get their pinkish color from very brief skin contact (typically only a few hours). In fact, the grape skins are responsible for color in a red wine, not the juice. Grape skins also impart body, heft and texture to a wine, which explains why rosés, with their minimal skin contact, tend to be delicate and fresh.
- Saignée, which means “to bleed” in French, is a common method for making rosé. During pressing, a small amount of the wine juice is bled off and set aside to be fermented as rosé. Winemakers often bleed off juice to add intensity to their red wines, in this way the resulting rosé is really a by-product of red wine. However, many wonderful rosés are created from this method.
- Maceration is a technique that involves simply pressing the grapes and leaving them to “sit”, in their skins for a short period of time (anywhere from 2 hours to 1 day). These wines are much lighter in color and the grapes are used solely to make rosé. This is the method of choice for producers who specialize in rosé.
- You should like your Rosé Fresh and Fast. This is a wine style that needs no aging at all. In fact the fresher and younger, the better. That said, there are some expressions that are meant to age, so if you aren’t sure, ask your wine retailer.
- It’s a cheap date. Generally, you should expect to pay $15 to $20 a bottle.
- Know thy style: Rosé wines can be dry or sweet and it’s in your best interest to ask about the style. Provencal winemakers craft dry rosés with vivid minerality and crispness. Producers from France’s Loire region tend to make sweeter versions of rosé (but often that sweetness cannot really be detected, rather it presents as a richer mouthfeel).
- Rosé plays well with a wide range of food. It is the ideal wine for salad, sushi and many Asian cuisines.
What to Buy Now:
Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé 2021, France ($15.99): Stony, limestone-laden vineyards that grow in the hills above Marseille near Provence lend this wine its elegance and freshness. Vibrant notes of wild strawberry, lemon and orange peel.
Saracina Rosé of Grenache 2021, California ($19.99): Saracina is a 400-acre ranch includes a winery and sustainably farmed vineyards—as well as 140-year-old olive trees, vegetable gardens, beehives, alpacas, wild boar, and more. This new bottling was sourced from the Lakeview Vineyard just two miles south of the Saracina Estate. Grapes are grown along the Russian River in classic gravel and alluvial soil.