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Cases of rosé greet you at Interbay's Total Wine & Spirits. (Image: Frank Guanco)

A Buyer’s Guide for Rosé All Day

With the metronome-like back and forth of rain and overcast this fall, winter, and spring, Seattle is yearning/grasping at any notion for spring, sunshine, and warmth. For many, spring means it is rosé drinking season. The pinkish hue, the rosy glow of rosé yearn for porch sippin’, grill parties, and warmer weather.

Yup, this is for those that are all about #roseallday.

Around the end of March and throughout April, bottles of the pink stuff hits grocery stores, wine shops, and specialty stores. You’ll see emails from folks like our friends at Full Pull touting the new releases. And wine drinkers will start to get that craving for the bright freshness of rosé.

Rosé is the perfect wine for spring and summer. Served with a touch of chill, it’s acidity, lightness, and notes of berries, tropical fruit are attributes of this wine. The color runs the gamut from a touch of pink to almost Kool-Aid red. Rosé can be made from a host of varietals; Grenache, Mourvedre, Tempranillo, Syrah, and Pinot Noir (amongst others) produce rosé of distinction that bears the hallmarks of these grapes while expressing themselves through rosé.

If the spiritual home of Pinot Noir would be France’s Burgundy, the same could be said for rosé in Provence. Amongst this part of southeast France, several varietals are grown for rosé (and red) wine and the producers of Provence display a deft hand alongside generations of winemaking to produce rosé that typifies the style. But great rosé can be found from regions all over the world. Italy, Spain, the USA, and others all produce rosé worth seeking out.

Earlier vs. Later?

I visited a few wine shops and grocery stores around Seattle to see what they’re stocking for rosé and what they’re trying to tell us with what’s on their shelf. When I visited Pike & Western a few weeks ago on a rainy Saturday, there were shelves of rosé from Provence, the Loire Valley, and a few from Washington. In speaking with Pike & Western’s Michael Teer, he mentioned that earlier arriving rosé can come from all over, but those from Bandol and Tavel tend to arrive a bit later. He also cautioned for patience with rosé as many producers are in a rush to provide to a thirsty market, that some of the bottles are still evolving and a few weeks can yield a more expressive wine.

2015 vs. 2016?

As I did my shopping for rose, I noticed that bigger chains like the Safeway on Upper Queen Anne and Interbay’s Total Wine had about a 50:50 split of 2015 to 2016 vintage of their rose. While 2016 rose is exciting for being so new, it shouldn’t be considered gauche to imbibe with 2015. A little bit of age can be good for rosé, but note that this style of wine isn’t intended to be cellared as the clear glass bottle allows abundant light to hit the wine. And if you find yourself with an abundance of rosé towards the end of summer, you can always make frosé. When visiting local shops like Lower Queen Anne’s Met Market or SoDo’s Esquin, you’ll see a greater diversity of local rosé from Washington producers with the vintage tipping the scale towards 2016. A few local producers to check out would be the Mr Pink rosé from the Underground Wine Project, which is a favorite of the local wine cognoscenti, and the rosé from Pearl and Stone, a winery from North Bend that had one of the hits at last month’s Taste Washington.

Cheap vs. Pricey?

As I was perusing the shelves and stacks, the cost of rosé amongst the stores ranged from $6-$22. On the lower end were bottles from European countries like Spain and Italy, but some of the more expensive bottles are often from France like Whispering Angel or Chateau Miraval. But as with most wines, cost isn’t always indicative of quality or enjoyment. The key that you’re looking for here is value. Look for wine producers you trust and shops where you can leverage the wisdom of the staff. Read the shelf talkers and see if any of them speak to you. Regardless have fun.

If you want to continue the fun with rosé, there are a few events this spring and summer to get down with the pink stuff. Like the 15th Annual Rosé Revival by Seattle Uncorked on May 10 in Kirkland. Or check out the party that Charles Smith (a man that truly knows how to throw a good party) will host at his first annual Jet City Rosé Experience on June 3rd at his Charles Smith Wines Jet City in Georgetown.

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