Years ago, I was invited to be a judge at an Italian wine competition in the Umbrian wine town of Torgiano. My fellow judges came from all over Europe, America, and Canada; there were maybe 40 or us in all. The wines to be considered were grouped according to style — red, white, rosé, sparkling, dessert — and a portion of the panel was assigned to each category. I ended up with rosés, which was fine with me. But you have never heard such bitching by supposedly professional wine merchants and writers. Rosé? How dare they put me in this category? Don't they know who I am? I didn't come all the way to Italy to taste this crap! And on and on.
I kept my mouth shut — except for when I was sampling the wines. I found a lot to like: bright, lively, gorgeously colored, abundantly aromatic, and often pretty delicious wines. I don't remember which samples I scored the highest, but I do remember thinking that if my fellow tasters had just relaxed and enjoyed the wine instead of the reputation of the wine, they would have been happy.
Times have changed since that tasting long ago, and I doubt that today's wine judges (even some of the same ones) would disdain rosé quite so much. So many top winemakers have addressed this style of wine, and so many really wonderful examples have appeared from virtually every wine-producing region in the world. Rosé even has its own competition now — Rosé Today, run by travel and food and wine writer Bob Ecker, and hosted by Wilson Artisan Wineries at their Soda Rock Winery in Healdsburg, Sonoma County. ("Our Pink Our Passion" is the event's motto.) Entries are accepted through June 10 — solicited from "All Domestic, International and Sparkling Rosé Wine Producers!" — and judging will be held on June 15.
Meanwhile, The Daily Meal has come up with its own list of top rosés, just perfect for summer drinking (but incidentally also pretty good all year long). To arrive at our selection, we reached out to our regular wine contributors to ask for their nominations and scoured the wine press (digital and otherwise) for rankings and reviews, collating the results to come up with 50 recommendations. (Because they are a category of their own — and would raise the average price represented here by quite a bit — we've filtered out any sparkling rosés.) Half a dozen of those wine writers supplied the tasting notes below (with some from myself as well).
Our rosés range across the wine world, including examples from 13 countries and six American states. They're made from pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, grenache, cinsault, sangiovese, and more, including a few varieties that may send readers to their wine reference books (hondarribi beltza, anyone?). They range in price from the equivalent of $7.25 a bottle to a decidedly un-rosé-like $65. They are arranged here in ascending order of price (but remember that prices may vary from state to state and store to store). Rest assured, though, that almost half the bottles here are priced under $20 — a bargain for the veritable taste of summer that these wines provide.