Rosé is my wine of choice. I love a chilled glass of some crisp Whispering Angel with savory happy hour bites. Or, sips of a fruit-forward blend like Michael Lavelle’s Iris Rosé on a warm day at the park. Its versatility and fun blush hue make rosé wine perfect in my opinion, and although it’s primarily thought of as a summer drink, I enjoy indulging in it year-round.
Someone else who agrees with me that rosé shouldn’t be limited to a particular season is my dear friend and Sommelier, Charles Springfield! So much so that he’s even written a book about it, Maneuvering Rose Wine With Style.
Now that the days are getting longer, we’re venturing out once again, and feeling a bit more celebratory, folks are more likely to shop around for rosé. And who better to put together a guide on navigating the world of pink wine than Charles! I decided to tap his expertise for today’s post so we can all stock up accordingly:
Hey Charles! I already know this, but can you share with my readers a little more about you and what it is you do?
Hey Aisha! Thank you for this opportunity. I’d love to introduce myself to your readers. My name is Charles Springfield and I’m a certified sommelier, wine educator, and author in New York City. I’ve been in the wine business going on eleven years now. But I started my career out as a newspaper reporter in New Orleans and also worked as a public relations executive for several years based out of the Midwest with some local and national advertising agencies. However, these days, the bulk of what I do is wine education. I fell in love with the concept about 10 years ago. I’d noticed that while people enjoy wine, sometimes they just don’t know why they enjoy it. And even after 10 years in the business, there is still a large intimidation factor associated with wine and even wine education. So, my goal is to democratize wine for the masses, while making the educational sessions fun and accessible.
I know you have two amazing books out, and one focuses particularly on rosé. As you know, rosé is generally my wine of choice and I love that you say it can be drunk year-round! Why do you think that is?
Thank you for that! My second book focuses on educating readers about rosé wine from around the world. It’s called “Maneuvering Rosé Wine With Style.” My main objectives for this book were to showcase a variety of pink wines produced from all over the world, not just the South of France. And also dispel a lot of myths and stereotypes associated with rosé — like only drinking it in the spring or summer months. Rosé is great all year round because of its versatility. Rosé is that happy medium between the red and white wine categories, making it the ideal wine category to enjoy with salads and fresh seafood in the summertime to some of the heavier dishes we love during the fall time like chili, casseroles, and holiday dishes.
So, I’d love to get into some recommendations! Are there any “new and noteworthy” rosé’s we should be on the lookout for?
I’m more than happy to provide you with some great recommendations, many of which may be “under the radar” for many people. For a sparkling rosé, I’d have to suggest the Bodkin Hotspur Cuvee Sparkling Rosé. It is made by Chris Christensen. He is an African-American winemaker and the creator of the first Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc produced in the United States. His sparkling rosé, however, features hints of cherries, freshly baked pie crust with a zing of pink grapefruit. It’s so interesting. It retails for about $25. It’s a unique blend of Zinfandel, Syrah, Albariño, Chennin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc.
Then, if you want something super cool and unique, the Theopolis Vineyards Estate Grown Rosé of Petite Sirah is almost in a league of its own. Winemakers can make pink wine from any red wine grape (and some white wine grapes in certain places), so the choice of using Petite Sirah is bold and different. It makes the wine a deeper pink, where it almost looks like red wine. That helps to give the wine a quality that allows you to hold on to the wine for a few years, as opposed to drinking it while it’s young and fresh. With all that, you get wild raspberry, dried rose petals, orange and orchard fruit on the nose and palate. It retails for about $28. I love this one because it’ll go great with both your summer crab and your hearty barbecues.
Oh! Those sound great. What rosé would you recommend to someone who likes a sweeter finish?
I definitely have a great choice for where the sweet tooth resides. While most people view French rosé wines as pretty dry, there is a region in the Loire Valley that makes them a bit sweeter. This subregion is called Anjou and the wines are therefore called Rosé D’Anjou (or rosé from the Anjou region). There are a number of producers that make this style, like Domaine des Nouelles Rose D’Anjou. This brand might not be sold everywhere, but be sure to look for Rosé D’Anjou for a semi-sweet option. Or look for wines that have less than 10 percent alcohol for other sweet pink wine options. And the great thing about these sweeter wines, they go well with a variety of spicy dishes, so jerk chicken or spicy Thai food.
Mmm, love some jerk chicken, I’ll have to take that into account. What rosé would you recommend for someone like myself, who likes something on the drier side?
In terms of the widely popular Provence style of rosé from the South of France — which I know you like; I have to recommend La Fete du Rosé. This style is more similar to a lush and flavorful style of rosé that is still dry and refreshing. This wine is from the first black-owned wine brand in St. Tropez, France. The wine features the same traditional grapes, a blend of Grenache, Mourvèrde, and Syrah, and that same attractive salmon, peach-skin color. This wine will retail for about $25 per bottle.
What about entertaining? If you were having a few friends over for a springtime happy hour situation, what would you serve?
You are such a skilled host that it’s a bit of a challenge for me to give you tips. But the most important thing about entertaining with rosé is to make it fun. This is not a time to be super serious about the wine. It’s an opportunity to experiment and have some fun. So, you can start with a really pretty sparkling rosé cocktail or even a frosé (frozen rosé cocktail) if it’s super hot outside. Then, I would have a light option and a slightly richer rosé option so people can see what works best for them and with the variety of food you are serving.
What if the roles are reversed, and someone wanted to bring a rosé to a friend’s house? What’s accessible but still impressive to carry along?
That is a great question. I think accessibility and affordability are key for taking a rosé wine as a host gift. And, let’s be 100 percent real. People are typically looking for some brand recognition and/or a pretty label. The Palm by Whispering Angel covers both of those aspects. Most pink wine lovers know the Whispering Angel brand. It’s one of the most widely sold rosé wines on the market. But The Palm retails for much less, around $15 per bottle, and has an attractive label that embodies the concept of “party time” or an “escape.” Plus the wine is very delicious.
Omg, The Palm is my go-to when bringing rosé to a friend’s house, so I’m happy to know I’m in the right direction, ha! Any honorable mentions?
Yes, there are many honorable mentions. So many! I’ve only scratched the surface of options, in terms of styles and regions. I’d definitely recommend people look out for Chiaretto di Bardolino wine from Northwestern Italy. These are like the pink versions of the Valpolicella-style, red wine from that region of Veneto. It’s a dry, crisp option that uses majority of the Corvina grape, with some Rondinella and Molinara. Then for something a bit bolder, a pink wine from Spain is ideal like a Rioja Rosado (rosado is the Spanish word for pink). These tend to have a bit more alcohol, but can also stand up against some bigger food items like Chorizo or Paella.
What are your favorite bites to pair with rosé?
I enjoy all wine with food, so rosé is no different. Most people skip food with these styles of wine. But they are perfect with everything from chips and guacamole and shrimp pesto pizza to fried pork chops and lasagna. And, I’ve actually fallen in love with sparkling rosé with fresh strawberries or, even better, Strawberry Shortcake.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I know I left your readers with a lot to think about. It’s just a part of what happens in wine education. But the last thing I want to leave your community with is to encourage them to explore pink wines from different regions. Taste them all. Smell them all. That is the only way to really learn what you truly enjoy. Life is too short to drink wine you do not like. We are very fortunate to live in a time where we have tons of options available to us. Enjoy them all and enjoy them often. I will now step off of my rosé soapbox. Cheers!