Known for being fruity, easy-drinking and refreshing, rosé wines most often bring to mind poolside summertime sipping. Many drinkers, however, accustomed to relegating rosés to their traditional role as mere patio pounders, don’t fully appreciate the wines’ food-friendliness and versatility. We’ve talked with sommeliers and rounded up a few of their favorite bottles, along with these pros’ thoughts on food pairings to really make the most of these remarkable and often underappreciated wines.
Ameztoi Getariako Txakolina Rubentis Rosé (Getaria, Spain; $23)
This gently sparkling pink from Spain is as tricky to pronounce as it is easy to throw back. (It’s pronounced “chah-kuh-LEE-na”, by the way.) Think of it like a rosé version of vinho verde, with off-the-charts acidity and a little spritziness on the tongue. “Pale pink in color, this zippy and bright rosé offers citrus and even some menthol on the nose,” says Chris Lauber, the food and beverage director at The James hotel in New York City. “But it’s symphonic in the mouth with strawberry and sour caramel and tastes cheerful because of its bubbles.” Made in the Basque region with hondarrabi zuri and hondarrabi beltza grapes, it’s meant to be consumed while young and pairs well with oysters, octopus, sushi or tempura.
Château des Ferrages Côtes de Provence Roumery Rosé (Provence, France; $16)
Produced in France’s sunny Provence with a blend of the region’s signature varietals cinsault, grenache, rolle and clairette, this wine shows a pale rosy hue in the glass and a character to match. Notes of strawberry, grapefruit, citrus and peach are apparent but kept in check rather than becoming a fruit bomb. “It’s Provence at its lightest: bone dry, strawberry and acidic,” says Andrea Cornwell, the director of beverage for Cameron Mitchell Restaurants, including the group’s Ocean Prime concept. “It’s awesome if you like chardonnay or chenin blanc and pairs amazingly with fruit, antipasto, fish or a picnic on a hot day.”
Domaine des Herbauges Grolleau Gris (Loire Valley, France; $15)
This might be the lightest rosé out there since it’s fermented from a gris grape (i.e. one with a greyish-blue interior) instead of a red, says Winn Roberton, the head sommelier at Bourbon Steak at the Four Seasons in Washington, D.C. Grolleau noir is used widely in France’s Loire Valley for juicy reds; its pink-skinned mutation makes elegant, fresh rosés. “This bottling hints ever so slightly at a pink-orange hue and has a wonderfully ripe peach and ruby-red grapefruit aroma and taste,” says Roberton. “It’s dry but juicy—I’d love to have this on a warm day with some San Diego fish tacos.”
Hexamer Spätburgunder Weissherbst (Nahe, Germany; $23)
“Weissherbst” is the German word for “rosé,” and though it’s a style that’s somewhat hard to come by, this bottle thankfully made its way to the U.S. “This wine-pink color is as translucent as they come, with a beautiful strawberries-and-cream aroma with intense hard-rock minerality on the palate,” says Roberton. Its pinot noir grapes are fermented “halbtrocken,” or half-dry (meaning quite sweet indeed), but balanced with racy acidity, rendering it either a worthy accompaniment to Thai dishes or any herby, fiery cuisine, or a perfect pairing for fruit-based desserts.Continue to 5 of 6 below.
Matthiasson Rosé (Napa Valley, California; $29)
The Napa Valley producer’s blend of grenache, syrah, mourvèdre and counoise is brightened with a bit of sauvignon blanc. “This is a quintessential dynamite rosé that’s light on the palate but very bright and refreshing,” says Lauber. “A savory character runs through the entire finish, making this a particularly food-friendly expression with lightly fried cauliflower or tomatoes.”
Sokol Blosser Estate Rosé of Pinot Noir (Dundee Hills, Oregon; $25)
Estate-grown pinot noir grapes from Oregon’s Dundee Hills are used for this restrained rosé with aromas of white peach and jasmine, a palate flecked with nectarine and fresh melon, and a finish of zesty, tart rhubarb. “I love wine from Oregon; this in particular has a crisp, dry finish that’s perfect for summer,” says Cornwell. “It’s perfect for all summer fare: salads, seafood, even steak.”