Rosé doesn’t require hot weather for it to be consumed, but the recent heat in much of the country certainly has me reaching for the rosé.
I’m happy to drink rosé in the “off-season” because it pairs well with many foods but, let’s face it, most pink wine is quaffed in the warmer months, with everything from salads to hot dogs.
Some people look for profundity in every wine they drink, and there certainly are serious rosés out there. But for me, in general, rosés are required to do two things: be refreshing and be delicious. I’m talking about dry (or nearly dry) rosés here, not the cloyingly sweet versions of pink wine. Even some dry wines have fruit flavors that approach the candied or confected, so cross those off the list. I look for wines with a racy, fresh profile, with bright and sometimes delicate fruit flavors.
A low price tag doesn’t hurt, either. The recommendations that follow top out at $25. Virtually any region that makes wine produces at least some rosé, but this year I’m keeping it simple with three locations: California, southern France and the Iberian Peninsula.
Pinot noir makes for a lovely pink wine, and the 2021 Sonoma-Cutrer Rosé of Pinot Noir ($25) from the Russian River Valley is an exemplary choice. The wine is persistent and refreshing, with racy wild strawberry, cranberry and a lemony note.
Some rosés give no clue on the label as to the grapes used, which is the case with the 2021 Sunny With a Chance of Flowers Rosé ($17) from Monterey County. But the wine is very fresh, with bright raspberry fruit, and it has the added advantage of containing just 9 percent alcohol, making it practically gulpable. (Sunny is a label from the Scheid Family stable, and all the wines are low in alcohol yet dry.)
Moving on to France. Provence is rosé’s best-known stomping ground, but a number of places in southern France produce delightful rosés. From Languedoc, the very pale 2021 Fleurs de Prairie Rosé ($20), a blend of mostly grenache and syrah, offers pretty berry fruit, a hint of creaminess and good structure for pairing with food.
The 2021 Saint-Roch Old Vines Rosé ($15) from Roussillon is bright and juicy, with delicate raspberry and hints of apple, lemon and cranberry. It’s a blend of 60 percent grenache, 40 percent syrah.
But I’m not skipping over Provence, which is the source for the refreshing 2021 Domaine de Cala Rosé ($20), a blend dominated by cinsault and grenache. It displays zippy berry with a whisper of pink grapefruit.
Much of the rosé in Spain comes from the regions of Rioja and Navarra, with the former being more readily available here. The 2021 Baron de Ley Rioja Rosado de Lagrima ($15), made from garnacha (grenache), is bright and delicate, with strawberry, a hint of pink grapefruit and some structure.
And now, for my best buy, this delightful pink wine from the Portuguese region of Alentejo: the 2021 Monte Velho Rosé ($12) from Esporao, a blend of touriga nacional, syrah and some lesser-known varieties. The wine is very crisp, with bright raspberry and cranberry and a touch of richness.
You may have noticed that all these wines are from the 2021 vintage. With a few notable exceptions, age is not the friend of pink wines.