North America’s first (and only) rosé competition is back for the second time ever at Simi Winery on March 25 in California. Wine experts will be judging the quality of hundreds of rosé wines, often cited as the most misunderstood of the grape varietals. Rosé wines are usually associated with middle-aged women sipping from dainty glasses with brunch, or novice drinkers that drink the “pink swill” because they haven’t gotten accustomed to the taste of alcohol yet. In reality, rosé wine doesn’t have to be sweet.
A rosé wine, according to Bob Ecker, the founder of the competition, doesn’t have an official definition, but is generally the first run juice of the grapes. Vintners add a little bit of the skins, but not enough to call it a red wine.
“Rosé had a bad reputation for being cheap, sweet, starter wines that are not worthy of recognition,” says Ecker, a wine connoisseur and writer. “As a wine judge myself, I thought ‘this rose category isn’t getting any love,’ so I thought we could start our own competition.”
In the past decade, Ecker has tasted more and more high-quality rosé wines, and says that he thinks rosé’s bad reputation came from years of cheap boxed wine’s popularity. Right now, the rosé competition is still looking for entrants. To qualify, wines must be from North America and say “rosé” somewhere on the wine label. Wines will be judged in both the dry and sweet categories. The cutoff for entering is March 20, five days before the competition itself, and there will be a public event to showcase the winning wines in May.