Once upon a time rosés were a wimp's drinks—the stuff your dad pushed aside for "real" wine. Today, practically every winemaking country on the planet produces a delicious rosé with variations that purposefully mimic—or depart from—the classic French style of yore. Thanks to this new versatility, rosés are no longer just summer sippers; they're on the table all year round, in boites from San Francisco to Syracuse. And they're crafted like red wines with red wine grapes—with all the grippy, puckery tannins to prove it—balanced by the refreshing crispness of a great white.
This makes rosés perfect for the transition from summer to fall; they pair with practically everything on your table. "In terms of weight and style, there's something out there for everyone," says Rick Pitcher, GM and wine director at Manzanilla in New York City, adding, "from light, super-dry Provençal rosés to big, burly rosés from warm climates such as Southern Italy or Spain." It's leading to a new world order, and a rethinking of gender roles. "One thing I'm seeing," Pitcher continues, "is that on more and more tables both men and women are drinking rosé—instead of the men doing their big red their thing and the women doing their white wine thing."
Below, five top rosés in five different styles.
The Classic: Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé Vin de Pays de la Méditerranée, France, $13From hilly vineyards above southern France's bay of Marseille, this blend of Syrah (with a good dose of Mourvèdre) boasts elegant strawberry and kirsch aromas, making it gulpably delicious on its own or with a classic tuna niçoise salad.
The Anomaly: Sauska RoséVillanyi, Hungary, $20Most Americans don't know that Hungary was one of the great wine world powers in the 19th century, a fact that lessens the surprise of how delicious this rosé really is—an amalgam of six red grapes blended together to produce a fruity, food-friendly pour that's both fun and serious at the same time.
The Relative Splurge: Chateau d'Esclans "Garrus" Rosé 2011France, $100Very few bottles are made of this Grenache-dominant blend culled from 80-year-old vines. Though pale pink, it's no lightweight: You'll detect notes of grilled pineapples and poached pears, zippy spices, and a luxurious, creamy finish. It's been compared to Champagne Krug (a real splurge), without the bubbles.
The Crowd-Pleaser: Dinastia Vivanco RosadoSpain, $15The red grapes of Rioja—Tempranillo and Garnacha—come together in this lighter, fruitier style of the Spanish region's classic red, lending the wine cherry, strawberry, and blackberry aromas and flavors, balanced with gorgeous, mouthwatering acidity.
The Celebratory Sparkler: Taittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2005France, $290The Ferrari of rosés, this spectacular sparkler features Champagne's trio of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes, with the accent on the red grapes, making it truly a red wine in disguise, able to handle any rich protein or sauce you serve alongside it, including the biggest, fattest steaks you can grill.
Follow Anthony Giglio on Twitter @WineWiseGuy.