Still resisting the rosé wave? Why you need to jump in

Rose is generally low in tannin and alcohol with prominent acidity and fruit, all of which makes it a good match for picnics and the lighter foods that we usually carry along on them. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)
Rose is generally low in tannin and alcohol with prominent acidity and fruit, all of which makes it a good match for picnics and the lighter foods that we usually carry along on them. (Michael Tercha/Chicago Tribune/TNS)

Credit: Michael Tercha

Credit: Michael Tercha

It’s hard to be precise, but some time in the relatively recent past — let’s call it seven to nine years ago — somebody proclaimed rosé not only safe to drink but cool to drink, and word spread.

However safe it was to drink rosé, or whatever drinking it said about us, more pink wine started showing up in restaurants and on store shelves, and scads of people were overheard saying, “It’s not like it used to be — it’s better now.”

Wine people were defending and promoting rosé, promising skeptical drinkers that it was worth investigating again. The reputation of rosé had preceded it. Even people who had never tried it thought of it as cheap, sickly sweet and unsophisticated — adult pink lemonade that was lightweight in every way. What kind of serious, formidable or delicately complex wine could look like that?

What a lot of people now believe is that those blushing hues are gorgeous — from the tiniest hint of rose petal dust to copper, salmon and bubble gum, on down the line to electric watermelon and shades verging on the intense candy apple glow of Campari.

We have more choices now when it comes to pink wine, and I’m here to echo those sentiments from a few years ago. If you’re still not convinced that rosé is fun, refreshing, delicious and versatile, pick up a few bottles and drink them outside with people you like. See if you still feel the same.

Sometimes sweet-tinged, rosé is generally low in tannin and alcohol with prominent acidity and fruit, all of which makes it a good match for picnics and the lighter foods we usually carry along on them. If you ask me, rosé is the official wine of picnics. It’s also a great aperitif, and a perfect complement to sunshine. Maybe it’s not so great with softball, but a spirited round of Jarts? Yes.

It’s OK if your rosé doesn’t widen your eyes or blow your hair back every time because you’re probably not going to be drinking it all day or night, and that doesn’t take anything away from it. Rosé is usually best in a supporting role, often on the lighter side but sometimes with a little more depth and range. It’s the Seth Rogen and Kristen Wiig of wine styles. Moviegoers cannot live on De Niro and Streep alone. Lighten up. Let some pink into your life.

Below are my favorite bottles from a couple of recent tastings. They come from France, Italy, Spain, Israel, California and Oregon and range in price from $9 to $25. Don’t forget to give them a nice chill before you pour them.

First, three from Italy, and we’ll start in the middle — Tuscany — home to the 2014 Santa Cristina Cipresseto Rosato ($9). Its 85 percent sangiovese and a manageable 11 percent alcohol make it a prime candidate for your afternoon front-stoop sipper — floral and lime-tinged with a rejuvenating touch of brine. Northern Italy’s Dolomites give us the 2014 Mezzacorona Rosé ($10), made of 100 percent lagrein, offering strawberry, cherry and a bit more body and fresh acidity. From the other end of the country, in Sicily, we get the 2014 Stemmari Rosé ($10). Strawberry, watermelon and cherry emerge from this one, which is composed entirely of nero d’Avola.

The 2015 Domaines Paul Mas Cote Mas Rosé Aurore ($11) is 50 percent grenache and 100 percent fun. Soft, sweet and melony, the wine is barely pink — deceptive for how much it offers. The Languedoc region in the south of France is its home. Israel’s Upper Galilee is where the 2014 Galil Mountain Rosé ($12) was produced. Reflecting the country’s experimentation with grape varieties and blends, this wine consists of about three-fourths sangiovese, a quarter pinot noir and the rest grenache. Expect strawberry, herbs and spice.

Rich and lush, the 2015 Cune Rioja Rosado ($13) is a bright red-pink tempranillo that is mouth-filling and teeming with red fruits, plus 13.5 percent alcohol to match all of its other bigness. From Sonoma County, the 2015 Toad Hollow Vineyards Eye of the Toad Dry Rosé of Pinot Noir ($14) will give you a luxurious mix of watermelon, strawberry and acidity capable of standing up to whichever spicy foods you throw at it.

Meanwhile, back in France, Michel Chapoutier’s 2015 Les Vignes de Bila-Haut ($15) from the Cotes du Roussillon is clean and refreshing, full of citrus, watermelon, peach and minerality, while the 2015 E. Guigal Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($15) also offers strong minerality along with strawberry, tangy cherry and spice. Yes, strawberry shows up a lot in these wines.

Pinot Noir from Napa and Sonoma went into the 2015 SIP Rosé ($15). Expect raspberry, anise and violets, and keep an eye peeled for a bottle shape that looks more suited to vodka than wine. The 2015 McBride Sisters Truvee Rosé ($16) comes from two real-life sisters who grew up on different continents with no knowledge of each other. They’re together now, and this Paso Robles wine is floral, light, bright and refreshing, like their story.

Using grapes from several parts of California’s Central Coast, the 2014 Saved Magic Maker Rosé ($16) offers generous red fruit balanced by acidity and a hint of spice. Biodynamic grapes went into the 2015 Quivira Vineyards Rosé ($22) from Sonoma County. Peach and watermelon leap from the glass, the wine’s aromas and flavors as refined and beautiful as its classic onion skin color.

Our pink tour ends in the Dundee Hills region of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, which lays claim to the 2015 Stoller Family Estate Pinot Noir Rosé ($25). Floral and citrusy, it is a delightfully tart and refreshing lip-smacker that will, like the wines above, assure you that rosé is safe, and cool.