Rosé is hot. Rosé is cool. Rosé is the wine of summer, every summer, but it somehow seems even more so this year. Wine writer Bob Ecker’s third annual Rosé Today competition, judging 239 entries from around the country and the world (it grows every year), was held on March 22 this year. In May, sommelier and wine writer Victoria James published Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé, a veritable paean to pink wine in all its variations and all its glory. The same month saw La Nuit en Rosé, a three-day festival (first held in 2014) devoted to you-know-what on a yacht in New York City (there are other versions of the event in Miami, Los Angeles, and the Hamptons). This month, on June 11, we observe National Rosé Day. And Joey Wölffer, co-owner of Wölffer Estate Vineyard on Long Island’s South Fork recently announced that he was opening, yes, a rosé drive-thru, to be open at the winery over the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends.
We’re sort of Rosé Central at The Daily Meal. We love the stuff, and have covered it amply over the years. Among other things, we’ve written about rosés for Mother’s Day, rosés for springtime drinking, rosés for the warming weather, the best places in New York City to drink rosé in summer, which rosés the celebrity crowd drinks at Cannes, rosés to close out summer with — and even rosés suitable for fall.
And every summer we come up with our selection of the rosé wines we like best for drinking right now. To arrive at this list of warm-weather quaffs, we asked wine-savvy friends for suggestions and scoured the wine press (digital and otherwise) for rankings and reviews. Then, over a couple of weekends, a small group of us sat down and tasted about 80 samples, choosing our 50 favorites. They’re not ranked because they are so different in style and intention that they’re often, well, if not apples and oranges, then cherries and strawberries (two fruits they frequently evoke).
The wines include examples from 11 countries (including our own) and four American states. They're made from 30-plus grape varieties, including pinot noir, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, syrah, grenache (lots of grenache, sometimes under the name garnacha), cinsault, sangiovese, and more — including a few varieties that may send readers to their wine reference books (trepat, anyone?).
They are arranged here in ascending order of price, but remember that prices vary, sometimes widely, from state to state and store to store. Rest assured, though, that some 34 of them are priced at $20 or less, with eight under $10 — a bargain for the veritable taste of summer that these wines provide.
This light, bright, sparkly wine — made from “a variety of the best Portuguese grapes” (probably including aragonês, touriga nacional, castelão, and trincadeira) — was a gateway wine for imbibers of an earlier generation. The unsophisticated truth is that it’s really quite pleasant, only slightly sweet, rather aromatic, and perfect for poolside sipping.
Javier Galarreta began his ARAEX family of wine brands in Rioja and expanded to make sparkling wine in the Catalonia region in 2009. This cava, made from the uncommon trepat grape, has broad flavors, with raspberry dominating, and, while not elegant, it has a pleasing, refreshing finish. — Roger Morris
The sparkling wines of Alsace should be better known, and this light, floral méthode traditionnelle pinot noir, with its attractive damp stone accents, is a fine example of the genre.
Until recently owned by the Jordan family, J is now the property of Gallo, which is keeping up the good work. This sparkler, two-thirds pinot noir and a third chardonnay (with a drop of pinot meunier), is rich and creamy, yet still elegant, with strawberry and minerally, orange notes. — Roger Morris
An opulent, aromatic, nicely textured pinot noir rosé Champagne, dark salmon-pink in color, with fruit and yeast in the nose, tart red fruits on the palate, and enough body to stand up to rich sauces and slightly spicy food.
Light amber-pink in color, this low-alcohol “green wine,” whose brand name references the pheasant that adorns its label, is a blend of Portuguese varieties (probably espadeiro, borraçal, and padeiro), fresh and light with medium fruit and a clean finish.
Another bargain-priced, agreeable Portuguese entry, mostly aragonês with some touriga nacional and syrah, this dark pink entry is simple but refreshing, with a raspberry-ish flavor and a nice hit of acidity.
Pale and fresh, this 100-percent cinsault from the south of France comes on strong with a lot of fruit in the nose, and then softens into a palate full of red fruits, cantaloupe, and citrus. A mouthful of wine for the money.
A 70/30 organic cabernet sauvignon-merlot blend from Bergerac, east of Bordeaux in France’s Dordogne region, this forthright rosé has plenty of grapey fruit balanced by a pronounced mineral character and a bouquet of herbs.
Winemaker Beth Liston declares her intentions in making this rosé with words directly on the front label: “Dry. Bright. Crisp.” It is all that — a very light wine with rose-petal flavors, good balance, and modest alcohol. — Roger Morris
Another Rioja-born garnacha-tempranillo blend, medium-dark in color and very dry, with nice strawberry fruit and a delicacy on the palate belied by its hue.
From idiosyncratic Washington winemaker Charles Smith, this dry, floral rosé offers violets and a touch of orange in the nose, followed by a rush of floral fruit on the palate.
Spain’s Navarra region consistently produces some of the best, most fairly priced rosés in the world, and this is a classic example. Made with garnacha by the saignée method, it shows cherry and strawberry fruit and just the right measure of acidity to give it plenty of life.
This straighforward wine, made mostly from tempranillo and syrah, is pure pink in color, with a red-fruit aroma and flavors of strawberries and citrus.
Peaches, plums, and cherries combine in this pretty darned delicious old-vines mourvèdre, light reddish-pink in color and very clean on the palate.
This luminous orange-pink South African rosé is made with grapes from a vineyard farmed specifically to produce fruit for rosé wine. There’s plenty of fruit here, but the overriding impression is of damp earth, flinty minerals, and aromatic herbs — adding up to a very interesting and enjoyable quaff.
A pretty rosé, both visually and on the palate, from Austria, vivid and full of juicy berries, but dry enough and outlined by enough crisp acidity to keep it from cloying. The main grape here is Austria’s main red cultivar, zweigelt.
A definitive garnacha-based rosé from Navarra, more red than pink in color, juicy and intense, with cherry and strawberry flavors and a hint of fennel — a rosé you could easily drink with meat.
The Ferratons were one of the first families to grow grapes organically in the upper Rhône Valley, and influenced others to do so, too. This rosé — three-quarters grenache, with syrah and cinsault filling in the rest — offers a mixture of citrus and fresh strawberries and is quite enjoyable as a summer sipper. — Roger Morris
Montepulciano is the primary red grape of Abruzzo, located on the Adriatic across the mountain from Rome. It produces a darker rosé — its local name when used for rosé is cerasuolo, which means “cherry-colored” — and this one, with lots of cranberries and strawberries, best serves as a table wine rather than a casual sipper. — Roger Morris
A pale, medium-bodied, light-hued rosé in a bottle with a memorable spray-on label inspired by the work of the tattoo artist Scott Campbell (who has, er, left his mark on such celebrities as Marc Jacobs, Sting, and Courtney Love and is married to actress Lake Bell), this rosé shows more tropical fruit than is usual in a grenache-based wine (there are tiny percentages of syrah and pinot noir added) and makes very pleasant drinking.
From the M. Chapoutier winery in Australia, this 100 percent grenache evokes Provence with its light pink color, light strawberry aroma, and crisp, acidic, fruit-filled character on the palate.
A ripe, juicy rosé from Puglia, made from primitivo, a very close relative of California’s zinfandel (both are clones of the same Croatian grape, crljenak). Smells a little like roses, but combines red fruits and herbs in the mouth.
Dark in color and full-bodied, with a slightly spicy nose and plenty of raspberries, strawberries, and cherries on the palate, finishing dry and long.
Provence pinks generally come with a hefty price tag, but, as this one was born in a cooperative, its price belies its quality. A lovely pale salmon color, it is very well made, with candied fruit and watermelon flavors, yet is crisp and dances across the palate. — Roger Morris
A full-bodied Rhône entry from a celebrated winemaker and négociant, mostly grenache, with some cinsault and syrah. Red fruits and herbs come forth in both the nose and mouth, and the finish is long for a rosé.
Made not from pinot noir, as its Burgundian bottle shape might suggest, but from merlot, this is a clean, well-rounded wine with a fruity aroma and flavors of watermelon, strawberries, and cherries.
This winery on Long Island’s North Fork is crazy — for rosé. It’s the only wine category they make, in both still and sparkling versions. Currently their portfolio includes four still wines made from merlot, one from cabernet franc, and one from sauvignon blanc, whose skins can have enough color to produce a light rosé —plus one sparkler each from the same three grapes. The 181 is Croteaux’s most delicate rosé, very pale pink in color, subtle in flavor, clean and maybe a little salty — more a wine for afternoon sipping than for the dinner table.
On the dark side of pink, this grenache-based entry (with a bit of syrah and carignan and tiny amounts of four other Rhône grapes) — from an appellation that produces only rosé — has an attractive richness and a flavor full of summer berries and peaches. Good food wine.
Given the outsized personalities of Texas chef-restaurateur Tim Love and Paso Robles winemaker/distiller Austin Hope — who together formulated this wine and named it after themselves — it’s surprising how low-key the results are. Almost half syrah and just over a quarter grenache, with mourvèdre, grenache blanc, counoise, and carignan filling in the holes, the wine has a pale salmon color, a faint citrusy aroma with a touch of the tropics, and light fruit with a slight mineral edge.
An ethereally light pink blend of grenache, cinsault, and syrah, this classy rosé has a citrusy nose, leading to a flavor of apricots and oranges, with a faint hint of Provençal herbs.
This little-bit-of-everything blend (merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, malbec, and petit verdot go into the mix) is coppery pink, with red fruits in the nose and the dry, almost tart character of cherries and strawberries on the palate.
A quite, dry syrah rosé with aromas of grass, smoke, and cherries, followed by a delicate but intricate weave of berry flavors, with a touch of peach and good acidity.
Another Rhône-style mix, with 55 percent grenache and the balance mourvèdre, syrah, counoise, and petite sirah. The color is medium salmon-pink, the nose is a concentration of red fruits with an herbal overlay, and the flavor is a mix of strawberries and citrus. Very tasty.
A mostly pinot noir-based rosé with a pearlescent pink color and a fruit-bowl aroma, this outgoing Oregonian is luscious and long, with good defining acidity.
Tavel is a Rhône appellation that produces only rosé. This one is soft and cushiony, with tastes of peach flesh and skin and a good crispness in the finish. — Roger Morris
Chaize, located in the village of Brouilly, is one of Beaujolais’ best and best-known producers. This rosé, from 100 per cent gamay grapes, combines flavors of cherries and strawberries and is well balanced and long on the palate. — Roger Morris
Mostly pinot noir, sourced primarily from Sonoma and Monterey counties, with a bit from Santa Barbara County, this is a medium-light, slightly floral, nicely acidic rosé made partly by the saignée method (in which some of the juice is “bled” off from the must) — which helps give it more concentration of flavor than its light hue would suggest.
Equal parts grenache and syrah, with smaller equal parts of mourvèdre and pinot noir, this Sonoma County pink offers citrus and berries in both nose and mouth, with a ghost of oak (it’s barrel-fermented and briefly barrel-aged) and a faint, not-unpleasant bitterness in the finish — possibly something to do with its high (13.8 percent) alcohol content.
A malbec rosé from outside Santa Ynez in Santa Barbara County, this fresh, pale, flavorful wine has plenty of life and fills the mouth with a flavor of crushed strawberries and red currants that lingers nicely in the finish. A serious rosé.
Michael Stewart, a tech industry refugee from Texas, this winery is one to watch. It has kept up its high standards with the beautiful, mountain-grown rosé pinot noir that has aromas of just-picked clover, flavors of mellow fruit, a crisp finish and a long aftertaste. — Roger Morris
A project by New York-based sommelier and wine podcaster Joe Campanale, this sturdy montepulciano, as dark in color as a lot of red pinot noirs, has serious intentions, expressed by its atypically earthy, almost barnyardy, aroma and its intense herb-scented fruit. This is not a summer sipper, more a muscular table wine that should stand up nicely to grilled poultry and meats and hearty pastas.
Named for the famously pink flowering plant whose color it is said to resemble, Dianthus is a Rhône-style rosé made by America’s top producer of Rhône-style wines. The recipe calls for about half mourvèdre, plus grenache and counoise, all organic, and the wine is partially produced by the saignée method. The resulting wine is lively and luminous, with unusual complexity for a pink wine, full of floral aromas, red fruits, and spice.
Originally concocted some years back by winemaker Kathleen Inman as a 20th anniversary present for her husband (that kind of crush), this pale salmon-pink wine, fresh and bright, is full of berries and cranberries, with good structure and a tart, clean finish.
One of the most expensive non-sparkling rosés in existence, this Provençal classic is a big, confident wine, mostly mourvèdre, with grenache, cinsault, and carignan added. Its medium-light color is deceptive: it has a forthright aroma of fruit and herbs, and then floods the mouth with complex flavors, a little earthy, a little smoky, and a lot delicious.