Rosé revisted: Putting pink wine into perspective

Credit: Krista Slater

Credit: Krista Slater

What is it with our perpetual love-hate relationship with pink wine?

Are you old enough to remember the sticky sweet moment for Portuguese wine from Mateus and Lancers? Did you trade up from wine coolers to Sutter Home white zinfandel in the ’80s? Perhaps you witnessed the shift from the “Are you hip enough to drink pink?” trend (Esquire, June, 1997) to the ubiquitousness of celebrity brands of rosé. (We see you, Post Malone.)

Just before 2020, we observed a bit of fatigue for rosé in the wine community, a boredom with a category that seemed to be overly trend-driven. That was unfortunate, as the 2019 vintages of most rosés that we tasted were outstanding, and made 2020 a little brighter for those who didn’t sleep on them.

Yet, based on sales in our wine shop, it seems like, once again, we all agree to #yeswayrose.

Rosé wine is made by allowing the juice of red grapes to briefly have contact with their skins; the intensity of color varies, based on grape type and the stylistic decisions of the winemaker. Rosé is not a monolith; styles range from very pale, dry and delicate, to richly deep fuchsia and fruit-forward.

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Credit: Krista Slater

Credit: Krista Slater

In France, arguably the motherland of rosé appreciation, the styles range from the delicate and dry styles of Provence, to the rich and powerful Tavel, a region in the Rhone Valley fully dedicated to rosé.

The domestic offerings are broad as well, from light-bodied, super racy tempranillo rosés coming out of Oregon, to a resurgence of white zinfandel (made in a dry style) in California, to funky new bottles produced from less familiar grapes, like valdiguié and nero d’avola.

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When recommending rosé, there is the occasional trepidation about its sweetness (the lingering effects of that 1980s white zinfandel craze still run deep), but most rosés on the market today are technically dry. Some are meant to be enjoyed with the speed of a soft-serve cone (drink right now!); others stay solid into year two or three; and a few intentionally are built to evolve over time. Your favorite rosé can change year to year; things like wildfire, frost or a new inspiration on the winemaker’s part can mean a new wine, vintage to vintage. And, hey, that’s great! Life’s too short to drink the same wine every time.

Here are four very distinct styles of rosé that we enjoy, and which are found easily in the market:

Adega Ponte da Barca Las Lilas rosé 2020 — Before hard seltzer, there was Portugal’s vinho verde, a crisp and crushable style of fizzy young wine, meant to be guzzled on hot days. Juicy, like strawberry lemonade, this is great for oyster roasts and Lowcountry boils that last all afternoon.

Schloss Gobelsburg Cistercien rosé 2019/2020 — A perennial favorite for us, this high-quality Austrian rosé is delicate, and grounded by herbaceous and savory notes. It is great when paired with vegetable-driven feasts, particularly when tomato season hits.

Domaine de Fontsainte gris de gris 2020 — Iconic and never disappointing, this rosé from the south of France is aromatic, yet refreshing, with loads of floral, melon and citrus. We love it with just about everything under the sun.

Broc Cellars Love rosé 2020 — A blend of valdiguié, zinfandel and trousseau, this product of the northern California coast is our latest pick when we’re craving a fuller-bodied, yet still refreshing, style of rosé. This wine can handle the smoky-spicy-sweet flavors of barbecue; the producer also packages a portion of the vintage in cans, making it a great addition to your beach cooler or picnic basket.

The Slaters are beverage industry veterans and the proprietors of the Expat and the Lark Winespace in Athens.

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