Before it was a “trending category” with its own marketing holiday, it was a very, very old style of winemaking-a range of styles, really-with the general result of wines that had clear tones, from almost colorless to almost fully red, from very, very dry to a tiny bit sweet. Pink wines are generally best served cold, they generally come across as “light” and “refreshing” versus “weighty” or “serious,” but if you try really hard you can find an exception to absolutely any generalization. In this regard, rosé wines are pretty much like everything else in the world, right?
When most of us think of rosé wines, what we are probably thinking of is wine from Provence, and not for nothing-the region has produced brilliant ones for a very long time. But rosé comes from every wine region you can think of and from every grape that has even moderate levels of anthocyaninis in its skin: In other words, unless it is genuinely green or yellow, you can turn it into a tinted wine. Some varietals seem especially suited to it-Grenache is often my favorite, but brilliant pink wines are made from (alone or in blends) Pinot Noir, Cinsault, Malbec, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Syrah, Mourvedre, and many others.
I’m not going to claim these are “the best” pink wines available right now because there are so many that no one can have possibly tried them all and I hate being specious if I can avoid it. This is a list of “wines I have found interesting and good recently.” Most of them are gentle on the credit card, all of them are worth your time. The “official” rosé day is this Saturday, but I’d argue any summer day is rosé day.
19 Bottles to Try
A to Z Wineworks Rosé (Oregon, $16)
A summer picnic in a bottle, though sure, pack some food too. Brilliant liquid-strawberry tone brought to you by Sangiovese; this stuff is from the Willamette Valley but it is not a Pinot. It has complex aromatics: orange oil, roses, a tart-floral note that I think it hibiscus, it reminds me of Jamaica agua fresca-and resinous herbs (thyme and fennel). The palate leans toward watermelon and cranberry, followed by ripe strawberries and wet stone. If you like your rosé lush and lavish more than gaunt and ghostly, this is one to look for.
Bells Up “Prelude” Rosé of Pinot Noir (Oregon, $22)
Small-scale boutique vibe but thanks to the miracle of online shopping not impossible to get. Lovely balance, slightly sober hue (so to speak), like a translucent garnet. It’s full-bodied and somewhat rich, but also bright. It’s heavy on savory notes, white pepper primarily, and there’s a lot of cherry going on. Also a bit of redcurrant and raspberry. Long limber finish. It has an unusually subdued nature for a rosé, in a way that suggests it’s a good foil for fall dishes.
Bertani “Bertarose” 2018 (Italy, $16)
Tangy. Ripe and tangy. Clear salmon-pink color. The nose leans toward pomegranate juice and white florals. There’s a fairly pronounced raspberry and redcurrant palate with a lingering finish. Excellent balance. Expressive and pleasant, like a gregarious friend whose stories you can listen to all afternoon.
Bodini Rosé of Malbec (Argentina, $12)
Sometimes I think I don’t like Malbec very much but I have no idea why I still think this when so many wines prove me wrong. There are more full-throated rosés in the world but this one’s definitely in the “bold” camp, with a sturdy fruitiness (strawberry pops out first, then cherry and I think pomegranate) underpinned by peppery spice notes. I think sautéed mushrooms would see this wine as a friend. I think you might as well.
BoYa (Chile, $15)
Pinot with a splash of Grenache; definitely says “Hi, I am a coastal climate rosé.” You don’t have to be in striking distance of a sea breeze to enjoy it, but that’d be the perfect pairing. Raspberry, citrus (tangerine and kumquat, I think) and a bit of tart cherry with a “Hey, check out my mineral collection” kind of mineral finish. It’s inexpensive and great quality and ready for a warm evening, a plate of oysters, or that sea breeze I mentioned.
Castello di Bossi (Italy, $15)
This is a saignee rosato of Chianti grapes (so, mostly Sangiovese). Saignee-style pinks got a bad rap thanks to some frankly crappy ones that were popular in the 1980s (if “white Zinfandel” is a phrase that gives you the willies, you know what I mean), but it’s an old method and it makes some really nice wines too. Salmon-colored and a bit intense, this wine one you’d never mistake for a French rosé; the herbaceous, dusty nose is pure Tuscany. Cherry, cranberry, dry earth, old stone, hints of rosemary. To die for with a big bowl of pasta or some grilled seafood.
Chateau Beaulieu 2017 Rosé (France $16)
Delectably fleshy and youthful. Rounded medium-bodied Provencal pink with a distinctive pineapple guava note, rounded out by mango, grapefruit, jasmine and papaya notes. Balanced and food-friendly. Also, the bottle is super pretty.
Chehalem 2017 Three Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir (Oregon, $25)
Sometimes we like rosés because they are ethereal and stripped-down and sometimes we like them because they are, like this one, vivacious and unapologetically fruity. Mandarin and lemon, redcurrant and strawberry, cherry and more cherry. Dry and sleek.
Clarendelle Rosé 2018 (France, $16)
Pink wines are somewhat less synonymous with Bordeaux than, say, Provence, but that’s not because they don’t make good ones. A Cab-Merlot blend, it has a rosy color and a ripe character. Rounded in the mouth, it shows notes of rosewater, redcurrant and berries, with strong salinity and a perfumey note on the finish-a diffuse tropical fruit note that’s citrusy and floral.
Gai’a 14-18h (Greece, $16)
You like tongue twisters? Say “Agiorgitiko” five times fast. This Nemean pink is so bright and glowing it looks like someone stuck an LED into the bottle. A youthful, fruity wine from a very ancient region, it’s in the middleweight range body-wise, and has a laid-back, kind of insouciant vibe, as well as a strong hit of cherry and a tart… well, the winemaker’s notes call out gooseberry, but if I ate a gooseberry my first comment would be “whoa, this tastes like wine,” so… I’ll just say it’s got some layered tartness and a super pleasant finish.
Maison Saint Aix “Aix” Rosé (France, $18)
Sleek, stylish, and pure Provence. Classic blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah with a flowery nose (I get neroli, rosewater, and a little honeysuckle) and on the palate there’s a juicy watermelon note dominating, with a little strawberry and stone. This wine is youthful and bright and easy to deal with. Happy in a bottle.
Mandrarossaa Perricone Rosé (Sicily $14)
Gorgeous deep dark coral tone, and while depth of color and intensity of flavor do not necessarily correlate, they do here. Punchy, powerful aromatics-ripe strawberry, roses, a little yellow apple, a little raspberry. Expressive stuff, and designed for a balcony overlooking the sea, but if you don’t have one of those, you could open this and feel as if you did.
Marshall Davis 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé (Oregon, $25)
Pinot Noir: You just never know what will pop out of this stuff. Expect cherries and woodsy notes and then open this bottle and wonder at the folks who managed to bottle the sensation of biting into a ripe white nectarine. Summery and markedly saline, this well-balanced pink has a strawberry note underpinning the nectarine-heavy nose, and a nectarine-peach-apricot core with enthusiastic acidity and a basaltic finish. Seriously yummy.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé (France, $25)
My local pizza place jumped the shark a while back, truth be told-but I still love them for having this stuff by the glass. Jolivet is some sophisticated juice. Pale frosty pink, raspberry nose, layered and elegant with herbaceous notes and some strawberry
Parusso Nebbiolo Langhe Rosato (Italy, $20)
You don’t see a ton of rosato Nebb around here. Not too many folks grow this Piemontese beauty in California, and it’s so prized for Barolo and Barbaresco that I imagine there’s not a ton of fruit dedicated to the lighter, casual expression. Thankfully there are a few, because it’s just incredibly good as a rose. The nose is quite a bit like what you’d smell standing in a blooming cherry or almond orchard. On the palate it’s raspberries and alpine strawberry. Strong salinity, lovely mineral finish.
Planeta Rosé (Sicily, $18)
Nero d’Avola and Syrah. Pale orange-pink tone in the glass-a clear sky sunset kind of color, very pretty. Meadow flowers on the nose, with a slight hint of sagebrush or something balsamic that smells stronger in the sun. On the palate, blood oranges, pomegranate, red berries, a trace of spiciness. Very nice hot weather wine.
Pursued by Bear “Blushing Bear” Rosé (Washington, $30)
This truly has nothing to do with my three-decade crush on Kyle MacLachlan; Pursued by Bear is completely excellent and Blushing Bear is delectable. Bandol thinking, Washington terroir. A little hard to come by (these wines sell out, meaning literally they all get bought, not the other kind of sellout, which they are not remotely) but if you’ve ever spent time in Washington in June, you might have experienced the kind of psychedelic beauty of the solstice in a latitude where there’s a hell of a lot of summer evening to enjoy, and the sun just seems to hang there in suspension forever, and flowers are going nuts and bees are drunk and birds are in love and the sky is pale and clear and perfect. This is that. In a bottle.
Ruby Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Gris (Oregon, $18)
Technically this is an orange wine or “reverse-rosé”-rather than taking black grapes off the skins, they leave tinted grapes in contact with skins until there’s a color anywhere from barely-coral to electric-red. This one is pretty strong after about ten days of skin time. The resulting flavor profile is quite different than “white” Pinot Gris. Big, bold blood orange notes. Grapefruit. Kaffir lime. Stone. Sour cherry. Oolong tea. Hazelnut. It’s rich and rounded and dry as all getout and it is completely different from the other rosés in your fridge.
Tormaresca Calafuria (Italy, $16)
Looks like roses, smells like violets. 100% Negroamaro from Puglia, and a fleshy voluptuary of a rosé . It’s… tactile? It activates your sense of touch more than some wines might. You’re very aware of it on your tongue. Believe me, in a good way. Orange, grapefruit, red berry, white peach, tenacious finish. There’s a hint of residual sugar on this one, which isn’t wrong because it balances the faint bitter note (“negroamaro” basically translates to “bitter black”). Medium-bodied wine, full-body experience.