Here Are Five Rosé Wines to Drink for Memorial Day (and the Day After...and the Day After That)
Spring -- and the onset of Memorial Day weekend -- practically obligates wine writers to pen a piece on the unofficial arrival of rosé wine drinking season. I've no problem capitulating to such requisite; I adore this fermented pink drink -- the beguiling pale salmon to vivid fuchsia colors, and the multitude of fresh red berry, watermelon, spice, citrus, mineral, and floral flavors, provide for a million, fascinating permutations in the bottle.
Let's clear one thing up first: No particular season should claim rosé as its own. Rosé has evolved into a year-round wine due to its versatility with food and vast stylistic differences; consider the range from Muscadet to Montrachet or Beaujolais to Barbaresco. Now that "Real Men Drink Pink" and every region of the world produces it, let's simply celebrate rosé all year long for the sake of rosé, not the weather.
Last June, we explored rosés from Provence and Rioja, two classic appellations (French and Spanish, respectively) that have long captured a large chunk of the market's attention. Here are five new places to consider, some with a long history of rosé production, others just breaking into the market with delicious results.
From each region below, I recommend a bottle that I've personally vetted during a recent tasting of nearly 20 rosés (in full disclosure, several in the tasting were provided as samples). If you can't find the wine, however, just ask your helpful wine shop staff (because you only shop at stores with helpful staff, right?) to offer alternatives.
Tavel, Rhône, France: This appellation in the Southern Rhone dedicates its production wholly to dry, Grenache-based rosé. Outside of Provence, Tavel has long been regarded as a premier rosé appellation, its popularity in the 1950s boosting production and price levels. Chilling is essential, but the heartier style and concentrated flavor, as compared to what's made in Provence, for example, makes Tavel a great red wine substitute in the summer -- it's also a good option for those men who still think they don't drink pink.
Look for: Lavau, 2013, $17. Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah lend deep, neon ruby color and bright red fruit flavors to this dry, full-bodied style. Perfect summer BBQ alternative to red, would pair well with burgers or grilled steak tacos.
Finger Lakes, New York, U.S.: Renowned for its Riesling and white wines in general, a few brave farmers continue growing Cabernet Franc, Lemberger (Blaufränkisch), Pinot Noir, and a few other cool-climate red grapes in the region, often with great success. Sadly, if you haven't heard, the region sustained terrible vine losses this past winter due to the polar vortex. The cooler weather, when not devastating crops, contributes elegance, acid, lower alcohol, and freshness to the wines, including the rosés.
Look for: Fox Run Vineyards, Rosé of Pinot Noir, 2013, $14.99. A strong nose of ruby grapefruit with a wild, earthy undertone engages your olfaction immediately. Fruit-forward strawberry and raspberry notes introduce the palate, but are soon overtaken by the bright, zippy freshness of grapefruit. Perfect for oysters, steamers, clams, or just sipping all weekend by the pool/beach/park.