White and red dominate in the colder months, but the return of warmer weather signals a seasonal shift toward rosé wines, as evidenced by the proliferation of rosé-colored glasses on tables and bars in the city’s top restaurants and cafes.
Shopping for rosés can be frustrating, because the degree of sweetness is the most relevant deciding factor but is rarely made plain on labels. Wine lovers are left to make educated guesses based on the wine’s depth of color or grape variety, but these tell us nothing about whether a given wine will be sweet or dry.
Luckily, there is a useful clue tucked into the fine print. Alcohol content is often the most reliable indicator of whether you should expect a truly dry rosé or one that is noticeably sweet. Generally speaking, the higher the alcohol, the heavier a wine will feel in the mouth and the drier it is likely to be. Bear in mind, though, that this pattern varies by region and climate. In cooler Europe, most rosés over 12.5% alcohol will taste quite dry, but those from the Americas and the Southern Hemisphere can often have a hint of sweetness even at 13.5%.
M de Minuty Côtes de Provence Rosé, France
Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes. 13% alcohol. PLCB Item #8897. $17.99
Classically dry and quenching, the dry pink wines of Provence are the height of summer fashion. Subtle in flavor with a lengthy palate-cleansing finish, they are adept at flattering simple dishes served raw, from shrimp cocktail to tomato salad, as with this delicate cranberry-scented beauty.
E. Guigal Côtes du Rhône Rosé, France
Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes. 13.5% alcohol. PLCB Item #4884. $14.99
The dry rosés from the Rhône and its prestige village of Tavel are among the world’s most robust, delivering red-wine-like traits in a chillable pink package. This example features forceful raspberry flavors and can stand up to intensely seasoned foods, from kung pao chicken to carnitas burritos.
Remy Pannier Rosé d’Anjou, France
Cabernet Franc, Grolleau, and Gamay grapes. 10.5% alcohol. PLCB Item #9501. $11.99
The flirty kiss of sweetness and modest alcohol content in the pink wines of Anjou is the perfect combo for foods with a serious spicy kick, like buffalo wings, but it’s also delicious with fresh fruit and cheeses. Sweet-tart and full of fresh strawberry flavors, this affordable wine is underrated for its food-pairing potential.
Josh Cellars “Rosé,” California
12.1% alcohol. PLCB Item #2072. $14.99
California sunshine produces grapes that are lower in acidity than those of Europe, which leads its rosés to taste and smell dessertlike even when the wine itself is on the drier side. That is the case with this blend, whose flavors of strawberry mousse or shortcake work well with burgers and ribs.
Chateau St. Jean “Rosé,” California
12.8% alcohol. PLCB Item #1156. $14.99
This Sonoma winery aims for milder “Provence-style” flavors in its dry rosé, where shorter periods of contact between the clear grape juice and its purple skins limit transmission of “red” color and flavor compounds. With flavors of white-fleshed cherries, it pairs nicely with grilled pork and fried chicken.
Beringer “Main & Vine” White Zinfandel, California
Zinfandel grapes. 10% alcohol. PLCB Item #5235. $8.99
Sweeter rosé wines, like this white zinfandel, are made by interrupting fermentation before all grape sugars are converted to alcohol, which explains the inverse relationship between the two. Full of sappy watermelon flavors, try this style with sweeter foods, like glazed ham or salmon teriyaki.
Roscato “Sweet Rosé,” Trentino, Italy
Pinot noir, Croatina, and Teroldego grapes. 8% alcohol. PLCB Item #9071. $10.99
When wines feature very low alcohol, as with this example at only 8% by volume, we can guess they will be fully sweet, as is the case with this frothy moscato-style rosé from northern Italy. Overtly grapey in flavor, with a candy-apple scent, it makes a great partner for desserts.
Gazela Vinho Verde Rosé, Vinho Verde, Portugal
Borraçal, Espadeiro, Amaral, and Vinhão grapes. 9.5% alcohol. PLCB Item #45882. $7.99
Vinho verde means “green wine,” so this pink wine is made from grapes that are not fully ripe, resulting in alcohol and sweetness levels much lower than usual. Its tart rhubarb flavors, fierce acidity, and slight carbonation are all terrifically refreshing with cold ceviches and salads.
Natura Rosé, Rapel Valley, Chile
Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah grapes. 12.1% alcohol. PLCB Item #1595. $11.99
Made with organically grown grapes, this Chilean rosé is lighter and tangier than most new world examples, despite being made with grapes known for darker reds. Featuring snappy flavors reminiscent of fresh pomegranate, it’s a natural with lighter meats – think chicken with pesto or veal Milanese.
Crios “Rosé of Malbec,” Mendoza, Argentina
Malbec grapes. 13.5% alcohol. PLCB Item #3007. $12.99
Dark in color and high in alcohol, this is a richly textured rosé that makes a great choice for red-wine lovers looking for a chillable option for lighter summer fare. It may not pack as much punch as a big red, but its black cherry flavors can easily handle a steak.