Kulers Uncorked: Rosés Are Cool...Finally

Spring is certainly in the air. The green pollen covering everything has come (and has mostly gone, thankfully); the Braves are playing ball (surprisingly good ball); the Hawks are still playing ball (although this does not typically herald the arrival of spring, it is a welcome one for Atlanta sports fans).

What is my personal harbinger for spring? It can be none other than the arrival of pink wines, otherwise referred to as rosés in the United States.

This is, I don’t know, maybe my millionth epistle on the wines of the fairer red hue. And while I’ve gained a reputation for shining a—a-hem—non-partisan, unbiased light on all corners with the wine universe without fear or favor, I must confess I’m a pink wine fan.

I first wrote about rosés back in the early ’00s for The-Magazine-That-Must-Not-Be-Named. I remember trying to get samples for a panel tasting and being able to come up with only a handful. I also remember having to explain that rosés are not the same as white zinfandels, as white zinfandel (or white merlot) implies a solid dollop of sweetness.

Today, a majority of wine drinkers “get it.” The rosés I’m referring to are crisp, tangy, zesty, but most importantly, dry wines. A recent visit to a Buckhead wine shop revealed 35 rosés on the shelves (with more on the way according to one of the associates) from seemingly every winemaking region.

Wine sales tracking organizations, like Nielsen, historically have had trouble monitoring dry rosé sales, since they combined sweet blush wines, like white zinfandel, with dry rosés. In recent years, blush wines gained their own category (sales slid by 3.9 and 2.9 percent in 2012 and 2013, respectively). In the same period, “premium rosés,” as dry rosés have come to be known, have risen by 33.6 percent in 2012 and 39.8 percent in 2013. I expect the trend continued into 2014, which I couldn’t find stats for, and into this year.

Statistics and empirical observations aside, what warms my heart like fresh cut grass and the Easter Bunny is that I see men unapologetically ordering rosés these days. This is key to the sustained success of rosé wines. Early adopting women never seemed to have a problem with the many shades of pink that rosés come in. Men, however, seemed to shy away from pink wine and, often as not, ordered big, mas macho, alcoholic red wines.

Like so many things related to machismo, that’s stupid. When it’s warm and humid and the food you’re eating starts getting lighter and cooler, you want a full-bodied, tannic cabernet sauvignon coming in at 14.5 percent alcohol? Suit yourself, big boy.

So it comes as some relief that I now have male guests extolling the virtues of cool, fresh pink wines. Men being men, they also see the need to enlighten me to their discovery and carefully explain why I should have more rosés on my list. At least attitudes about wine can change.

Gil Kulers is a sommelier and maitre d’ for an Atlanta country club. You can reach him at gil.kulers@winekulers.com.

  • 2013 Mas de la Dame, Rosé du Mas, Les Baux de Provence, France
  • $14
  • Two Thumbs Up
  • Lots of earthy, mineral notes that balance out the bright, floral and red berry aromas. Refreshing without being too tart with flavors of ripe strawberry, red currants, watermelon and a subtle spiciness.

Note: Wines are rated on a scale ranging up from Thumbs Down, One Thumb Mostly Up, One Thumb Up, Two Thumbs Up, Two Thumbs Way Up and Golden Thumb Award. Prices are suggested retail prices as provided by the winery, one of its agents, a local distributor or retailer.

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