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Nothing could be more refreshing than a chilled glass of rosé, this year’s quintessential summer sipper. Here, we spoke with the experts on the best rosés + what to pair them with.
Rosé is currently the darling of the food and beverage world. Although it is traditionally seen as a summer beverage, more people are embracing the motto “rosé all year”—a sentiment gleaned from the French who never understood the point of the American practice of relegating this blush wine to the summer months.
Despite its newfound adoration, the reputation of this rosy-hued beverage has often been dismissed as “less than” its white and red sisters, seen as frivolous or overly sweet. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Victoria James, beverage director at Korean steakhouse Cote in New York and author of Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé, explains: “Rosé was the first wine ever created, well before red and white. Today, exceptional pink wine is emerging as a serious wine category, not just among those ‘in-the-know’ but among consumers and new wine drinkers.”
It has long been one of France’s favored wines, and continues to outsell whites there—rosé is definitely not a passing fad.
Today, exceptional pink wine is emerging as a serious wine category, not just among those ‘in-the-know’ but among consumers and new wine drinkers.
It may have taken the U.S. a little while to catch up with European connoisseurs—in fact, Nielsen recently reported that the popularity of rosé wine in the U.S. is growing at an “unheard of” rate—but catch up we have. This summer, New York is espousing its love of the pink libation with the Rosé Mansion pop-up experience on 5th Avenue, which boasts the largest rosé wine list in the country and an instagrammable experience featuring everything from a bar with hot-pink sand to a bathtub of pink roses. Samples are included but the real highlight is the Blending Lab where you’ll be able to create your very own rosé.
Then, there’s the city’s The Rosé Project, a dinner series that pairs rosés with dishes prepared by top chefs. Its first installment in 2017 featured Chef Dan Kluger of Loring Place, with Kimberly Prokoshyn, head sommelier at New York’s Southern Italian establishment, Scampi.
Prokoshyn says that a great rosé is about a balance of elements. “Whenever fruit, character, sweetness/dryness, acidity, tannin, and alcohol play well together wine really sings,” she explains.
Rosé can be made from any red grape varietal. Essentially, it is red wine that has undergone a much shorter maturation. Rosé brings together the freshness of white wine with the depth of tannin and fruit of red, making it truly versatile and great for pairing.
Rosé brings together the freshness of white wine with the depth of tannin and fruit of red, making it truly versatile and great for pairing.
There are more than a few lingering misconceptions surrounding the pink drink, however. Kathryn Coker, Rustic Canyon Family Wine Director and co-owner of Esters wine shop, bar and marketplace in Santa Monica, California, has encountered every falsehood. One of the biggest is that rosé doesn’t pair well with meat, which Esters counters by pairing theirs with everything from Rubens to charcuterie.
“It’s said that rosé is a light, simple wine. That it’s not ‘serious’,” Coker explains. “Yet many aged rosés are insanely complex. Others think darker pink rosés are sweet, and don’t pair with savory cuisine. We just brought in a beautiful Nebbiolo rosé from Ioppa in Northern Piedmont, bursting with fresh red fruit and mineralogy that’s great for pairing with grilled octopus, chicken liver, crispy confit chicken, and more.”
Ultimately, the huge variety of rosés available today means there’s an option for every palate and pairing. Here’s a rundown of these sommeliers’ top picks:
Domaine de Fontsainte Rosé
Fontsainte in the Languedoc, in the South of France, is the perfect go-to pink wine. It is lean, racy, mineral-driven, and every sip makes you want more. It’s great as an aperitif, or served with crudités.
Château de Trinquevedel Rosé
Château de Trinquevedel (Tavel, Rhone Valley) has a bit more structure and power. This is the perfect accompaniment to grilled meats or a summer BBQ.
Romeo del Castello Vigorosa
A summer tomato salad with olive oil, basil, and garlic is delicious with a slightly darker rosé like Romeo del Castello’s “Vigorosa”, from Etna in Sicily. Its plump and juicy fruit pairs well with the sweetness of the tomato. The wine is both bright and dry, which adds lift and freshness to the dish.
Cantine del Notaio Il Rogito Rosé
A bolder rosé, like the one from Cantine del Notaio, “Il Rogito”, can be paired with grilled steak and any kind of light, fresh garnish. It’s a beautiful, transparent, ruby-red color and is rosy, juicy, with strawberry and cherry, a fresh black pepper kick, and long, lingering freshness.
Domaine Zafeirakis Limniona Rosé
Pair Domaine Zafeirakis rosé from Greece with Esters’ kanpachi crudo (made with lime miso vinaigrette, drapple pluot, sea bean, and Calabrian chili oil). It’s super light and zippy; a complement to this fresh dish, with just a hint of spice.
Alfredo Maestro Amanda Rosé
The Alfredo Maestro “Amanda” rosé of Garnacha Tintorera from Ribera del Duero is incredible with our Reuben sandwich. The wine is just funky enough to pair with corned beef and sauerkraut, and provides a wonderfully refreshing contrast.