Rock the Rosé | Drink | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Rock the Rosé 

Finally, pink wine is fashionable.

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Much to my surprise, having flown its flag for decades, rosé has suddenly become hip and trendy. Increasingly, people are learning that they aren't typically sweet; fewer and fewer are confusing them with white zinfandel. Whereas production in France led the way to its popularity—followed by Spain, Italy and the U.S.—pink wines are now being made in places as far flung as Morocco, Austria, Hungary, Lebanon, India, Bulgaria, Slovenia, the U.K., Greece, Israel, Chile, the Republic of Georgia and Brazil.

I usually take the opportunity to write about rosé this time of year, since it is such a compelling spring and summer wine—although I hope you don't limit your intake to only warm-weather drinking, since it tastes great in the fall and winter as well. After all, you don't abandon white wines in winter, do you? Most rosé has as much—or more—heft as white.

Katherine Cole, wine columnist for The Oregonian, is a fellow reveler in rosé. Her new book, Rosé All Day: The Essential Guide to Your New Favorite Wine ($24.95) is hot off the presses and makes a strong case for the charms of pink vino. It's not the standard dull wine-book read. In it, Cole suggests that its recent popularity is a pop-culture phenomenon. According to Nielsen and the Wine Marker Council, rosé sales and value soared some 60 percent in 2015—a trend not seen since the days when Sideways made pinot popular.

Cole namechecks hip-hopper Flo Rida, who sings, "2 in the morning I'm zoned in / Them rosé bottles foaming," and Wiz Khalifa requesting "rosé in my Champagne glass." "And then there is Rick Ross with his black bottle," Cole writes. "Rozay's rosé entered 66 international markets in its first three years of existence, becoming the top-selling sparkling wine on Amazon. Between 2013 and 2014 alone, its sales grew by 340 percent."

It's true that it used to be considered crap, but now it's cool. Yet that's not why you should drink it. I love rosé for its versatility. There are higher- and lower-alcohol rosés, lighter- and heavier-bodied ones, sweeter and drier. They range from nearly raspberry in color to faint creamy pink, resembling white zin. They are wonderful pairing partners for a wide range of foods—from delicate sushi to brawny barbecue. Rosé can be slightly sweet, bone-dry or in-between. After years of bombarding my palate with tannins, oak and alcohol, they come on like a summer breeze. They're also relatively inexpensive, although with the recent surge in popularity, prices are creeping upward. Since it's rosé season, I've been tasting my way through a roster of them. Here are some standouts:

Chateau Minuty is a family estate in Provence on the Saint Tropez peninsula (wouldn't suck to work there, right?). Jean-Etienne and François Matton produce top-notch wine there, utilizing chemical-free, sustainable practices, and 2016 "M" de Minuty Rosé ($19) is a good example. It's light-salmon in color and bone-dry with bold orange and currant fragrances and fresh acidity. I'd enjoy it with spring pea soup and grilled shrimp.

A pair of organic, sustainable and Fair Trade rosés recently knocked me out: De Bos Walker Bay 47 Varietal Rosé ($17) from South Africa, and Spain's Raimat 2015 Rosé ($12). Both are luscious and affordable. I also love the 2016 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($14)—one of the meatier new examples I tried.

Meiomi Rosé 2016 ($25) is delicate, dry and delightful. But my favorite so far this season has been Kim Crawford Hawke's Bay Rosé 2016 ($18) from New Zealand. It's gorgeous and well worth tracking down. You'll want to order a case or two to get you through summer. 

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