I visited NYC’s hottest summer insta-trap, the Rosé Mansion pop-up, partly because my girlfriend was visiting and I thought it would be fun. Really, I already scored the tickets out of morbid curiosity. How would rosé, long misunderstood— even after it became good—be portrayed?
The Mansion was supposed to represent everything ruthless marketing and those who can afford the time and brain cells to crush wine all day purport it to be: Casual, fun, fresh-meets-slightly seductive; no longer a wine but a warm-weather decoration. I was surprised that, as fun and pouty-cute-pic-friendly as it was, rosé was done some educational justice.
Did the others, also swinging from the chandeliers, know they were tasting good wines? A good rosé is not to be sprayed around, mixed into a cocktail, or selected based on its shade. This far into the season, and this far into its climb to acceptance, it’s my duty to set some rosé things straight.
Why It Was Pooh-poohed
In the late 1990s and early 2000s, rosé wine splashed into the United States—mostly from Provence where the bulk of rosé still comes from, and was reminiscent of zinfandel, a classically non-sophisticated option and instant bad karma. Then, when we decided to make our own, domestic rosé, it was way too sweet and thick, everything a rosé should not be. For a variety of reasons my memory is hazy (*wink), but around 2012–2013 our rosés got a bit better. If you taste a sweet and thick rosé, by all means tough it out in the name of “no man left behind” but I give you a pass to toss or marinate baby back ribs in it.
Why There’s Such a Range of Color
Do not judge a rosé by its shade of pink. During the winemaking process, grapes are crushed and the juice then sits in contact with the skins. This can be for as little as a day, a timeframe determined by the color and more importantly the nose and slight tannin the winemaker is going for. Eventually the juice is separated from the skins: The time they had together determines the color of the wine.
Why It Is—and Should Be—Inexpensive
Rosé is among the cheapest wine varieties to make. The grapes are harvested early, ensuring acidity and low alcohol. They spend almost no time at all in a cellar or in oak. The drink was born in Provence to be refreshing and crispy, and it should be just that anywhere it’s produced. Craftsmanship, intention, and elbow grease go into every bottle of dry rosé, and that demands respect—just no more than $25 of it.
Though I left the Mansion armed with a year’s worth of #friyay #roseallday, girls-just-wanna-have-fun photos, the experts on the floor and the outstanding wines they presented us with—not one of them sweet—left me with hope. We have (mostly) come around on rosé.
Six offerings to try; the first three were my favorites from the Rosé Mansion:
Dr. Konstantin Frank Rosé 2017 ($14.99)
Nose: Strawberry, apple, and young flowers.
Palate: More berry and apple.
Mouthfeel rounder than I expected given the light pink color.
San Marzano Tramari 2017 ($14.99)
Nose: Stone fruit and berry.
Palate: Strawberry and melon. A slightly flinty tang.
Stobi Rosé 2017 ($11.99)
Nose: Ripe strawberry and raspberry.
Palate: Cherry. There’s a curve on the acid reminiscent of yogurt; not just saying that because the wine is from Greece.
E. Guigal’s Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2017 ($16.99)
Nose: Grapefruit, raspberry, and red currant.
Palate: The fruits expand into their ripened versions. Well-balanced.
Yellow Tail Rosé 2017 ($6.99)
Nose: Strawberry, melon, rose. Palate: Young peach, strawberry, and cherry. Crisp but lingers on the palate.
Layer Cake Rosé 2017 ($12.99)
Nose: Passion fruit, rose, and cranberry.
Palate: Guava, strawberry, and rhubarb. (Insert “is this cake or pie?” joke.) Dry finish.
Amanda Burrill sees through an adventurous lens, typically focused on culinary and travel. Her education includes a bachelor’s in archaeology, a master’s in journalism, a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu, and wine and spirits credentials earned while living in Paris. She is a U.S. Navy veteran, Ironman triathlete, high-alpine mountaineer, and injury connoisseur who ruminates on UnchartedLifestyleMag.com