The NYLON Guide To Rosé
Pour it up
Long before the giant wave of millennial pink crashed the mainstream, wine lovers were minding their own business while sipping on glasses of rosé. The beverage has been around since the eighth century BCE where it was birthed in ancient Greece. It wasn't until the 19th century that the light pink drink became a staple in the South of France in a little town known as Provence.
Rosé can be made in four different ways: run-off or bleeding, grape skin maceration, direct press, and blending. So no, you don't just mix red and white wines to make rosé—it's actually forbidden to do so in France. The rise of rosé in the United States can be credited for a variety of reasons. Adam Chase, a certified WSET educator and director of Grape Experience Wine & Spirit School in San Francisco, thinks that the discovery of dry rosé is what changed Americans' perceptions of the wine.
"For years, many U.S. consumers just assumed rosé was the sort of sweet concoction of a wine," he says. "So many rosés were the stuff that you'd see at the bottom of the shelf. They were very simple, sweet, sort of strawberry, almost candy like... What started to happen was more and more people started to produce rosés that had more to them—that tasted more nuanced, more layered, more interesting, and not what we would call an alcohol Kool-Aid or an alcohol pop."
Katherine Cole, wine writer and author of Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine, says that rosé is a "much more complicated wine than we give it credit for" and points to the blurring of gender lines as an explanation for the growth in popularity. When it comes to drinking wine, the boundaries between masculinity and femininity have become obsolete over the past decade. "It's cool for guys to be open to pink and show that they're open to femininity," she says.
Despite this sudden surge, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a certified master of wine and author of Rosé Wine: The Guide to Drinking Pink, believes that "rosé has never really been out of fashion and out of style." She has always viewed it as a "crowd seeking" wine despite what the "wine-illuminati" think about it.
New Yorkers can even go on an annual rosé-themed weekend getaway at Governors Island every summer called Pinknic, thanks to French entrepreneur Pierrick Bouquet. Growing up in France, he was always familiar with rosé—when he noticed a gap in American wine industry in terms of educating people on the rosé category, he lept at the opportunity to fill that void. (He's also recently launchd his own Rosé Mimosa by Rosé S'il Vous Plaî, so you can trust his taste.) Warmer weather is ideal for rosé, but enthusiasts shouldn't feel limited by the seasons. "I drink it all year round without a doubt," adds Cole.
Victoria James, one of New York's youngest sommeliers and author of Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé, wants everyone to know that rosé is not a basic drink. Right now, rosé is better than it's ever been but it is also being taken advantage of and served with a side of sexism. "It doesn't have to be for your basic bitch, it can be a high quality wine," she says. "That's kind of the biggest rumor I'm trying to dispel."
In honor of National Rosé Day, we put together a guide on our favorite wine with professional consultation from all five of these experts. Grab a glass and drink up all the details, below.
Like most fancy things, rosé's roots can be traced to vineyards in France. Many delicious bottles of rosé are imported outside of Provence though. It started as a pink run-off from red wine that people didn't want to go to waste so they drank the byproduct. Before wine makers started taking it seriously, James says that rosé was often made using rotten grapes and "young vines that weren't concentrated." She adds, "Now they're making high quality rosé all over the world."
People associate rosé with summertime because of Parisians staying in the south of France during that season with the pink drink in hand. The Hamptons wanted in on this glamorous indulgence, so they started incorporating rosé into their lifestyle, as well. Elsewhere, open your palate to the offerings of across the globe—James is a fan of rosés from smaller sub-appellations like Bandol, Cassis, and Palette within Provence but she also enjoys wines from areas like Spain, and Switzerland. Chase has found a decent amount of good rosés in Argentina, Australia, Italy, and South Africa.
People used to classify rosés as a "girly" drink. Wine companies have a tendency to target millennial women as the beverage's main demographic, but now more men feel confident about consuming it. Bouquet proudly drinks rosé all year long and describes it as a "premium" wine and the "champagne of the millennial." He adds, "Rosé is not intimidating." For the shameless women holding it down and demanding rosé whenever they damn well please, James has these words of encouragement: "Young females got to stick together and break the glass ceiling."
Despite what you might see on Instagram, rosé comes in a variety of shades and should not be limited to the lens of "millennial pink." James says that people gravitate toward "lighter, prettier styles of rosé" because blush is "aesthetically pleasing," but people shouldn't be put off by the darker tones. She adds, "Rosé isn’t just a color. It's so many different things." James notes that in countries like China, darker shades of rosé are actually more desired, as the wines are judged by their overall packaging. So, color has nothing to do with quality. The warmer it was when the grapes were grown, the darker the rosé will be.
Sweet, savory, fresh, fruity, crisp, dry, earthy, smoky, floral, earthy, aged... The list of flavors and grape varieties goes on and on! The taste of rosé depends on where the grapes were grown, the warmth in the atmosphere, and the condition of the soil. Chase personally prefers rosés from the Tavel region of France that have a bright and rich taste that is light on the senses. He says that "they've got that summer-in-a-glass kind of aroma." Cole on the other hand is a stickler for the acidity so she tends to go for rosés with notes of citrus. Finding a "good" bottle can be tricky so James recommends finding an importer that you like so you have someone to trust who understands your preferences. As Simonetti-Bryan puts it, "There shouldn’t just be one type of rosé."
Flat vs. Sparkling
Rosé is light in alcohol, which makes for an "effervescent" drinking experience according to Simonetti-Bryan. Don't be afraid to add some rosé champagnes to your roster too—Cole never turns down a glass. Chase even likes sparkling prosecco rosés and enthusiastically exclaimed they "add more life." You'll want to pay attention to the atmospheres of pressure for this selection so James recommends turning to specific producers on a smaller scale that make rosés with exceptional quality. Simonetti-Bryan adds, "It's just yummy, what's not to like?"
A true sommelier will be able to advise you on the best rosé to pair with your meal. James insists that rosé tastes good with anything, making it the most versatile wine of all. Cole also agrees, saying that "the problem with rosé is that it goes with everything." She even believes that people can pair their rosé based on the color so darker rosés with "meat or hearty vegetables off the barbecue" and lighter rosés with salad and fish. James highly recommends rosé to vegetarians because it complements dishes with seasonal vegetables like asparagus. Tapas-style dishes like olives, radishes, and anchovies are also classic pairings in her experience. Chase sticks to soft cheeses made out of goat's milk and co-signs pizza.
Believe it or not, but rosé doesn't have to cost you a fortune. Don't judge a bottle by its price tag or dismiss it for being on the cheaper side—Chase insists that you don't need to be spending more than $40 on rosé, but don't opt for the bottom of the barrel. Simonetti-Bryan agrees that rosé is a very "wallet friendly" wine and you can aim as low as $15 for a good bottle. However, Chase warns that you shouldn't buy the cheapest choice because "sometimes those are more confected" and "more manufactured." He adds, "You really want to understand what you're getting."