Is Rosé Summer’s Ultimate Guilty Pleasure?
Absolutely! Here’s everything you need to know about the basic beverage we can’t get enough of.
Put aside the basic connotations for a minute. Is there anything else you’d rather do than enjoy a
glass bottle of great rosé on a rooftop/backyard/patio/fire escape/beach/dock/[insert other appropriately sunny outdoor locale] on a summer Friday afternoon? Didn’t think so. So let’s re-claim drinking rosé from the roster of basic behavior, because we’re almost certain that we can all get on the summer water/rosé-all-day train for good.
It’s for this very reason that we wanted to educate ourselves a little on our favorite summer beverage. Rather than pick out any random rosé in the “under $15” section of our local liquor store (light? dark? California? Italy? France?), we decided to get some much-needed answers—how exactly does one elevate that summer-water situation to an adult-drinking-fine-wine-at-a-picnic-potluck situation? Which is where Joey Wölffer (whose Wölffer Summer in a Bottle is a rosé we actually know we like) and Marissa A. Ross, Bon Appetit’s wine columnist and girl who generally *gets* us (and our drinking habits), come in. See? A little know-how, and rosé is the furthest thing from basic.
How to know what’s good and what’s not:
“Gotta drink a lot of it! Seriously though, there are so many different styles of rosé, and taste is so subjective that there isn’t any foolproof way or rule that would work for everyone. Some people like their rosé really fruity and juicy; personally I like mine dry and minerally. The best thing to do when you like a rosé is take note of what type of grape it is and where it is from. And don’t be afraid to try new things. The more you try, the more you’ll figure out what you like and what you don’t. Those are your greatest tools in the wine-buying game.” —Marissa A. Ross
“I like to look for where it comes from. For example, we’re known for our dry wines. My personal favorite is our Grandioso Rosé, which is Chardonnay-based. The lighter the color, the drier and the less sweet the wine is. I personally don’t like sweet wines. I also tend to spend under $40 on rosé wines. I think, for me, it’s more about how light or dry it is, but still has some flavor.” —Joey Wölffer
How to tell which bottles will be reliably good:
“If you don’t recognize any of the grapes or regions, your best bet is to pick a light-colored rosé. The lighter the color, generally the lighter the wine. When you’re buying totally blind, it’s better to err on the side of lighter because even if you’re not the biggest fan, it’s still easy to drink. When you buy a dark rosé blindly, you run the risk of getting a big, fat fruit perfume bomb that you’d rather dump down the sink than take a second sip of.” —MAR
The different types of rosé you should know:
“People tend to think of rosé as something specific, when really it should be thought about in the same broad way we think about red wine or white wine. Rosé can be made from virtually any red grape varietal, so the possibilities are endless and there is an incredible amount of diversity. The differences in color come from how long the grapes ferment with their skins. The only difference between a Pinot Noir rosé and a straight-up Pinot Noir is how long the skins get to chill with the juice.” —MAR
“Wölffer’s gold label rosé is actually a blend of six different grapes: Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling. About 70% of the ‘secret recipe’ consists of red grapes, and the remaining 30% comes from white grapes. Because we use six different flavors and textures, even though it’s a simple, fun rosé, it makes a complex wine, and that’s the key. A rosé wine made from just one grape varietal can get on your nerves, as it only pushes one button on your taste buds.
“Lightly pressing the skins of red grapes gives rosé wine its pretty pink color. The darker the rosé, the more the red grapes are handled in the process of making the wine.” —JW
Know what to pair it with:
“Rosé is so versatile and food-friendly that they can go with almost anything. My favorite pairings, personally, are rosé with sushi, summer salads, and grilled chicken.” —MAR
“Rosé is as much about how good it tastes as it is about the frame of mind in which you drink it. I love drinking it poolside or on a picnic blanket. It goes well with hors d’oeuvres like smoked salmon, poached lobster, raw shellfish, beef or tuna tartare and soft cheeses. Main-course dishes like roast turkey, baked ham, roasted or grilled pork, chicken, or fish also go well.” —JW
Getting over the rosé hangover:
“I treat all my hangovers the same: water, weed, pizza and/or a burrito, sleep, repeat.” —MAR
“There’s the popular trick of drinking a glass of water after each glass of wine. But if you do get a hangover, I love avocado toast with an egg and bacon on the side.” —JW
How to spot the sweet or the dry:
“If you’re looking for something fruitier, check out rosés made from Grenache, Zinfandel or Sangiovese. For drier rosés, check out Pinot Noir, and rosés from Provence and Loire, France.
“Speaking of Provence, if you’re like, ‘What are you talking about? I JUST WANT SOME DAMN ROSÉ!’ Just get rosé from Provence. Everyone likes rosés from Provence—it’s like science.
“I have a couple favorite rosés. The first is Leliévre Gris de Toul Millésime, which is made of Gamay in the Loire and is dry, salty, and reminds me of the ocean. Another one I love from the Loire is this blend of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau by Olivier Lemasson called ‘Pow Blop Whizz.’ A bit fruitier than I normally go, but it’s just so good and fun.” —MAR