When the days are consistently hot, an iced tea, beer, iced coffee, or simply a glass of ice water are among the most obvious ways to cool off. But when friends arrive and conviviality is appropriate, only a handful of beverages seem to be the best alternatives, especially if you’ve put out some cheese and crackers, chips and dips, and umbrellas in the proper locations.
I’m a huge fan of Champagne, of course, because it can be chilled down and not lose very much character. And those who know me also know of my absolute dedication to dry riesling, especially when they are really crisp and refreshing.
But the one wine that seems to be the most popular over the past few years among wine lovers for the hottest days is bone dry rosé. And one reason is that when there is no sugar, the aftertaste actually produces salivation, which helps to make all sorts of finger foods that much tastier.
There truly is no formal strategy for identifying the best rosé wines, so I have decided to offer a few tips that make some sense, since so many rosés that have the word “dry” on the label really are not completely dry, and they are so sweet that they make the word seem like a lie.
Seek Wines of Lower Alcohols
When the alcohol level in a rosé shows it to be 14 percent, chances are the wine will be soft and may actually seem as if it has some sugar. Alcohol has a sweet aftertaste, and to me, 14 percent alcohol rosé isn’t dry.
In fact, even 13 percent alcohol can also be slightly rich and therefore a little less crisp than works as refreshment.
Seek Rosés Made From Pinot Noir or Grenache
Many other grapes can make dry rosés, such as sangiovese, merlot, and even zinfandel, but the two most reliable are pinot noir and grenache. The grape cinsault can also contribute beautifully to a grenache blend.
Pay Attention to the Method
Try to determine if the wine was made by a method called direct-to-press, or if it was made by the French term “saignee” (san-yay).
Grapes harvested specifically to make rosé wines are sent immediately to be pressed, making for a more delicate wine with loads of flavor, but also likely with excellent structure.
I’m not a big fan of rosés made by “saignee” because in some cases the alcohol levels rise more than they ought to for the wine to be really dry.
Probably the best way to find out about the method used is to ask the wine shop owner or clerk. Some supermarket personnel may also know which technique was used.
Choose Rosés From the 2020 Harvest
Pink wines from prior vintages can be fine to drink, but the older a rosé is, the less it has the fruit it had when it was younger.
Don’t Spend Too Much
There is no need to spend a lot of money to buy quality dry rosés. Almost every store that carries dry rosé will have several that sell for around $10, and for that you’ll likely end up with something interesting.
Look for Rosés From the South of France
Your best bet likely will be from the south of France, such as Provence. Dry pink wines have become so popular over the past decade that dozens of producers from the south of France are making them. The French are extremely skilled at making this kind of wine, and they are so good with food that they end up on dinner tables around the world.
Wine of the Week
2020 Perrin La Vieille Ferme Rosé, Ventoux ($8): This wine is seen under several different labels, most of them using this designation. The fruit component is like maraschino cherry with hints of tropical fruit, and the wine is dry but not austere. It also has been seen discounted from this moderate price and is a great alternative to more expensive pink wines.