Writer Alex Beggs was sitting at a Manhattan restaurant when she saw six fashionable women walk in. Minutes later, the women’s wine orders had arrived: Provence rosé all around. This got Beggs wondering why rosé was suddenly popular again in New York City. She says, “One day — some time in the late mid-aughts maybe? — it was just…everywhere.” This is a somewhat surprising turn of events, as rosé used to be a maligned wine in the US. Cheap, overly sweet California Zinfandel turned most Americans off rosé in the 1980s, yet as the new millennium approached, this changed. Wealthy wine enthusiasts began buying dry European rosé, serving it at elaborate Great Gatsby-inspired parties in the Hamptons. Today, Millennials are twice as likely to buy and serve rosé as previous generations, and there are more rosé options on the market than ever before. Rosé is the fashionable wine of choice for the summer, and there’s good reason: a great rosé is versatile, elegant, and delicious.
For Large, Outdoor Parties
The best rosé wine for any large gathering, especially one held outdoors on a warm summer evening, is rosé Champagne or any sparkling rosé. Sparkling wine is a crowd-pleaser for three reasons: first, many people are already familiar with it and know what to expect, second, the wine is associated with special occasions and thus makes any occasion feel extra festive, and third, you can drink most vintages young without ruining the experience. Before you pick out rosé for a large gathering, consider the formality of the event. If one of your friends is hosting a casual garden party, you’ll want to stick with a rosé Cava, rather than a vintage Champagne. Fancy, lauded Champagne has no place at casual parties when guests won’t be focused on the wine. When you buy rosé sparkling wine, get magnums or other large format bottles whenever possible to ensure you have enough for every guest (and for more festive flair).
Summer wedding receptions are where you can pull out the big guns, splurging on vintage rosé Champagne. Milestone events like weddings call for something a bit more special, like Cristal Rosé. Remember that vintage Champagne should always be served during a toast so that your guests have the chance to fully appreciate the wine. Veuve Clicquot also makes rosé Champagne blends that are worth storing in a cellar for future parties, and it’s a good idea to invest in some of these bottles now. You can wait years to share them with friends, or give them to your hosts as gifts.
For Foodie Potlucks
The most difficult party to choose wine for is a potluck, because you never know what dish your guests will bring. However, there is one rosé that can stand up to just about every food out there, and that’s Provence rosé. Famous for its crisp, fresh flavors and medium-dry style, Provence is the most popular rosé region in the world. Whether you’re eating a salad or a steak, these wines will be a perfect fit. Most Provence rosé is made with a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah, and Cinsault, giving it a complex set of flavors.
Producers like Domaines Ott make some of the most accessible and drinkable wines in the region that pair well with a variety of foods. These aren’t necessarily wines for collecting, but they are worth buying for parties. Rosé from Provence is floral, fruity, and has a kick of spice, and these flavors work like chameleons when paired with food. You’ll find that whatever food you serve, the flavor of the wine subtly changes to match it. Look for Provence rosé with some spice, since these will stand up to bold foods better than milder wines from the region.
For a Night of Dancing
Syrah rosé should be your top wine choice for a dance party, especially if you plan on serving any spicy snacks. I once went to a party hosted by a local salsa club, and the dance instructors (many of whom were raised in Spain) brought along traditional, bold dishes that they learned to make in their home country. The hosts served Syrah rosé with the food, and to my surprise, the delicate-looking wine was able to keep up with the spiciness easily. You want your guests to feel bold, excited, and energized at a dance party, which is why Syrah rosé is a perfect fit. The wine is full-bodied enough to perk up the palate, and it can be served relatively warm (which means you spend less time in the kitchen, and more time on the dancefloor). Look for Syrah rosé in a deep ruby color with red fruit notes and pepper. Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon blends are some of the most intense in this genre.
For Intimate Dinners
If you’re only inviting a few friends over for a fine dining experience, you’ll want a supple rosé with flavors that can only be appreciated in an intimate setting. Pinot Noir rosé shines in this category. Small dinner parties allow you to pair just the right food with this finicky wine, like light seafood dishes or mild cheese. Look for Pinot Noir rosé that is highly acidic and full of aromatics, since these are signs of a high-quality vintage. This wine is best-served as the only drink of the night, or at least as the first drink, as its flavors are too mild and nuanced to compete with bolder wines.
For Wine Tastings
The best rosé wine for summer wine tasting parties are Tavel and Grenache because most wine enthusiasts will appreciate the unique flavors of Rhone that shine through these wines. Tavel and Grenache wines let your guests enjoy summer rosé without sacrificing complex flavors; these are wines that you can’t help but talk about as you taste them, and they certainly don’t fade into the background. Tavel was allegedly Ernest Hemingway’s favorite wine, and it’s one of the darkest of all rosé styles. It’s high in alcohol and has all of the flavors usually found in standard red wines, making it worth cellaring for years before opening. Similarly, Rhone-style Grenache-based rosés like Sine Qua Non’s Packin’ Rosy is great for tasting parties as a foil to Tavel. Grenache is less intense than Tavel, and is high in acid with a medium-bodied finish. You’ll want to start with lighter Grenache early in the night, then move down to intense Tavel later in the evening, as Tavel is lower in acid, and has an earthy, nutty set of flavors with a full-bodied finish.
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