Crushable, crisp, and highly quaffable, Rosé is undoubtedly the patron wine of summertime. But while you may know rosé largely as light, breezy summer water, the category of pink-hued wines is surprisingly broad.
“I’ve noticed a bundle of misconceptions regarding what rosé even is— probably much due to the very mass produced, widely available white zin monstrosities out there,” says Donny Clutterbuck, the bar manager of Cure Bar. “The main idea worth conveying about rosé is that it isn’t sweetened or colored white wine."
Outside of that, the color and flavors of a rosé can vary wildly depending on the grape, where its made, and by whom.
There are savory, dark purple reds from Chile and barely-blushed bottles from the South of France. There are cheap-and-cheerful canned iterations and more austere bottles best aged for decades.
Think breezy Languedoc bottles for chugging in the sun and food-worthy bottles made with Syrah, Nebbiolo, or Carignan grapes that offer refreshing acidity and rich fruitiness. It's safe to say there’s a rosé for every occasion.
As a rule of thumb, “Since rosé is made from red wine grapes, I always like to go with rosé made from winemakers that make stunning red wines,” says Benjamin Gutenbrunner, the beverage director of New York’s Blume.
So set yourself up at a pool, bunker down next to a barbecue, and start swirling this salmon-hued wine. Here are our favorite bottles of rosé.
“There is a veritable ocean of rosé wines on the market, and the ones that seem to most easily reach the consumer are wines that are mass produced and mass-marketed by powerful co-op wineries.,” describes Claire Coppi of Sushi Note. “I always stock up on this small-production rosé. Depending on the vintage, the Ojai Vineyard’s rosé is blended with varying levels of Syrah, Grenache, Carignan, plus a small splash of Riesling for good measure.
The resulting wine is snapping with tangerine zest and fresh raspberries, strawberries, and orange blossoms with crackling minerality. There is a delightful note of sea breeze on the nose that makes you feel as if you are standing on the coast of Santa Barbara, soaking in the sunlight while watching the waves crash in.” $25
Planet Oregon 2020 Rosé Bubbles
Soter Vineyard’s Planet Oregon has managed to bottle the electric energy of a sweaty summer fiesta. The pinot noir-based bubbles burst with bright flavors of watermelon, a squeeze of citrus, berry sherbet, and juicy Oregon berries. The vineyard works to monitor and offset carbon emissions and waste production—drink this bottle with a good conscience. $24
Gut Oggau Maskerade Rosé 2020
“This rosé is made from Zweigelt and Blaufränkisch grapes, with hands-off cellar work, no sulfur or additions. Like all Gut Oggau wines they are clean, fresh, and really highlight the grapes they use,” describes Gutenbrunner. It’s refreshing, briney, slightly savory, and full of strawberry and pomegranate notes. “There is very limited production so don’t walk but run to grab a bottle or two since this will be a special highlight on any dinner table or wine cellar.” $45
Christina (Netzl) Rosé 2020
“Christina Netzl and her father make some of the top red wines in Austria, for this rosé she uses Zweigelt grapes from the Weinland,” says Gutenbrunner. “Since Christina is a natural wine, bottled unfined and unfiltered, with great notes of strawberry and black raspberry. This is absolutely stunning clean wine for the summertime. $20
Sans Wine Co Still Rose
Don’t let the canned format fool you—this Mendocino-based brand bottles up quaffable, affable, all-natural wines. Case in point: a Carignan-in-a-can. It's rosé in the style of beaujolais: light, lifted, low-effort, and full of fruit. It’s meant to be chilled down and drank quick in the sun. $10/a can
Gerard Bertrand Cote des Rose
If you want those light, tranquil, summer water sensibilities from your rosé, Languedoc icon Gerard Bertrand’s iteration is the way to go. Made with the typical South-of-French blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah, the Cotes des Roses is fresh and easy-going yet still elegant. What else can you expect from a wine born from the Mediterranean coast? $17
With a name that translates to ‘cherry-red’ in Italian, Cerasuolo lives in a grey zone between dark rosé and light red—think the freshness of rosé with the boldness of a Northern Italian red. Cirelli's take made entirely of montepulciano d'Abruzzo though don't let that fool you: it's bubbly, charismatic, and a little funky with fresh acidity and pressing minerality. $23
Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé
Emerging from our year-long quarantine holes is more than enough cause for celebration. This radiant Champagne from the iconic Moet and Chandon is elegant and bright, with a persistent minerality and a delicate effervescence. $65
This historic Piedmont vineyard’s riff on a rosé channels the easy-drinking mindset of say, a Whispering Angel, but with elevated flavors that pair incredibly well with food (think everything from burgers to platters of charcuterie). Despite the base of Piedmont bigwig grapes Dolcetto, Nebbiolo, and Barbera, it’s refreshing—a staple summer bottle for everything from park pounding drinks to more elevated drinking sessions. $19
Arnot-Roberts Rosé California 2020
Dustin Wilson and his team at Verve Wine vouch for Arnot-Roberts’ excellent California-fied take on a blush-hued wine, made with Touriga Nacional; a Portuguese grape most traditionally used f Port. “This unique Touriga Nacional-based rosé is bright and zesty, noted with flavors of juicy melon, citrus rind, and tart strawberries. Mineral-driven acidity and a saline-tinged finish make this thirst-quenching wine one of our top picks for year-round sipping.” $30
Korbel Brut Rose
Blending Pinot Noir, Gamay, Sangiovese, and Chenin Blanc, Korbel’s California-fied Brut Rose drinks like beach air - crisp and refreshing, with a faint breeze of melon and juicy black cherry and raspberry. Swap out Prosecco for this in a spritz. $15