7 Tips to Pick the Best, Cheapest Rosé You've Ever Tasted
Whether you're gifting a bottle of rosé as a housewarming gift or simply looking to uncork something festive on your own porch, the versatile wine is more popular than ever. But it's not always easy selecting a delicious, affordable bottle with all the rosé wines that are now on the market. Here, vinophiles share their tips for selecting a tasty, cheap bottle of the summer staple.
1. Pick your poison.
"The first thing you need to consider when purchasing rosé, whether it be expensive or bargain wine, is deciding what type of rosé you want. Rosé is a style of wine where you can really see the difference between Old World and New World varieties, says Kyra Deminski, bartender and sommelier at Radiator in Washington, D.C..
"Old World rosé is typically very pale pink in color with subtle notes of fresh to almost under-ripe strawberries and raspberries. Often times, it also has tones of rose petals and lilac. New World rosé tends to be darker pink with much more assertive fruit notes, leaning towards strawberry shortcake or raspberry jam flavors. Because these wines are much more fruit-forward, many people tend to think they are slightly sweeter. Also, they usually have a little more body so they can pair well with more intricate dishes. One of Deminksi's go-to choices Old World picks is Bieler Père & Fils 2018 Rosé Provence ($15.99). For New World, she opts for Elk Cove Vineyards Pinot Noir Rosé (around $14).
2. Be a label sleuth.
"If you're getting lost in a sea of pink in the wine aisle, I suggest flipping the bottles around and reading the back label to give you a better sense of what the brand is all about — you may be surprised! The back label of The Dreaming Tree wines, for instance, tells you that this wine is a collaboration between myself and musician Dave Matthews and our rosé bottle shares Dave's drawing of a Rhino, giving drinkers a clue into our conservation efforts with the International Rhino Foundation, to which we donate a portion of proceeds from each rosé bottle sold," says The Dreaming Tree Winemaker Sean McKenzie. The Dreaming Tree Rosé Wine retails for $14.99.
"Look for descriptors of flavors that you would enjoy drinking at any time of the day and pair with many foods. You want to depend on your wine choice for whatever moment or occasion comes up," McKenzie continues. On that note, be sure to give some thought to what you're eating before checking out. "Rosé is great for food pairing, because its lighter style makes it incredibly versatile with food. You could say it's a bit of a chameleon — not quite white, and not quite red. This style creates food-pairing flexibility, because it has some appreciable structure, with lighter tannins and lots of refreshing character. I'm partial to spiced onion rings with our rosé—delicious!" says Jeff Cichocki, Winemaker at Bonterra Organic Vineyards; the vineyard's 2018 Rosé retails for $16.
3. Pay attention to the growing region.
"Just like with any wine, the more specific the location of where the grapes are grown, the higher quality of wine. For example, a rosé from California is typically of lower quality than a rosé from Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California," explains Ronald Buyukliev, lead sommelier at Estiatorio Milos at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas. "The more specificity listed on the label in regards to the growing region, the more care that goes into growing the grapes in general. Also, look towards emerging wine regions, such as Greece, for great cost-to-value ratios." Buyukliev loves Chateau Trinquevedel Tavel Rosé 2017 ($19.99).
4. Stay true to your personal flavor preferences.
"[Know] what you like. If you enjoy an earthier wine with mineral accents, then Europe is where you can begin your search," advises Sam Bortugno, resort sommelier at Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Florida. "If you like fruit-forward styles of rosé, then search for wine from outside of Europe like North America, South America, Australia or New Zealand. Understanding the style of wine that you like will narrow down your choices."
WATCH: How To Make Frosé
5. Forget what you think about the color of the wine.
"My first tip on choosing a delicious bottle of rosé is to not judge rosé by the color! Just because it's a dark rosé doesn't mean it's going to be sweet. Some of the driest rosés are those that are dark," recommends Elana Abt, WSET Level 3, Wine Director of OTTO Enoteca e Pizzeria in New York City. Try Abt's vino selection, G. D. Vajra Rosabella Rosato 2018 ($14.98).
Sommelier Michael Corcoran of Peppervine in Charlotte, North Carolina elaborates on that point, sharing, "There is a lot of mass-produced rosé out there, and those who produce them know that the paler the rosé, the better the chance people will buy it — so guess what? They manipulate the wine until it's the perfect shade of salmon-pink." Corcoran's pick? Ryme Cellars Aglianico Rose ($25).
6. For summer-sipping, consider going dry.
"A dry rosé is perfect for summer and works so well with many of my summertime favorite dishes, like oysters on the half shell. Look for descriptors like fruit and citrus flavors and minerality on the finish," offers Jason Becker, Winemaker of Meiomi Wines (their dry and nuanced 2018 Meiomi Rosé retails for $24.99).
7. When all else fails, go to Trader Joe's.
Yep, you read that right. "Trader Joe's has a private label rosé under the Famile Perrin brand called La Ferme Julien, and it is not shabby at all, especially for $6 a bottle," advises Lauren Volper, sommelier and founder of WineUp, an educational resource. "My favorite 'over-the- counter' rosé is Gerard Bertrand Cote des Roses and you can find this anywhere from Target to the corner store. It has a famous rose-bottomed bottle and glass-top sealed closure and averages around $12 a bottle."
Happy shopping and swilling, everyone.