Rosé, an easy-drinking yet flavorful style of wine, finally seems to be gaining the appreciation it deserves in the U.S.
And wineries have responded. Industry publications are reporting double-digit growth in the category and even triple-digit growth in some price ranges.
I have been touting the pleasures of dry rosé for years so I am gratified it is getting its due at last.
There are essentially three ways to make a pink wine. The most common is to press red grapes and leave the juice in contact with the grape skins (the source of a wine's color) only briefly. The second method is called saignée, a byproduct of red-wine making in which a certain amount of juice is "bled off" shortly after red grapes are crushed. The last involves blending white and red wines to the desired effect.
This column focuses on dry rosés, not the sweet "blush" wines that have been popular for years. Expect bright, fresh fruit aromas and flavors of strawberry, cherry, raspberry, cranberry or even watermelon. The best display fresh fruit aromas and flavors that approximate the profile of their red siblings but drink more like white wines. Because of their vibrant freshness and lively fruit, pink wines are typically best drunk young, so look for the most recent vintages.
As far as the grapes used, Rhône varieties such as syrah, grenache and mourvedre are popular, but so are pinot noir, zinfandel and sangiovese. My tasting (all wines from 2016) was dominated by pinot noir.
Here are my favorite Pinot Noir Rosés: Clos du Val Carneros ($30), the most expensive of the tasting but it delivers; Stoller Dundee Hills ($25), pretty, high-toned fruit; Martin Ray Russian River Valley ($20), savory and creamy; Barrymore Monterey County ($18), plush and spicy; La Crema Monterey ($20), soft, hints of cream and spice; Cambria Santa Maria Valley ($25), juicy with cinnamon; Meiomi ($25), watermelon, lime and minerals; and Angeline ($13), attractive citrus and succulent palate
And for Rhône fans: Halter Ranch Paso Robles ($21), 2/3 grenache, zesty, spicy
Plus two very good pinot noir and syrah blends: Kendall-Jackson Vintner's Reserve ($17), delicate apple and watermelon; and Decoy ($20), creamy and spicy
And a longtime Zinfandel favorite: Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley Signature Selection ($15), easygoing with cinnamon
Finally, you can't beat some fine bubbly: J Vineyards Brut Rose ($35), 66 percent pinot noir, 33 percent chardonnay, 1 percent pinot meunier yield intense fruit balanced with creamy effervescence; Gloria Ferrer Brut Rose ($29), 60 percent pinot noir and 40 percent chardonnay provide fine floral accents to complement tasty fruit and a luscious texture
While these wines are ideal for enjoying on their own, they also are quite versatile, making nice accompaniments for vegetable dishes, light fish and seafood, charcuterie, sandwiches and salads.