The rise of rosé is here, and it’s time to peel back the many layers of summer’s big sip.
Even if the Hamptons are running dangerously low on rosé — and that was a real New York Post page six story — Grand Rapids is plenty stocked. Summer already is flipping its hair and flirting with us and there’s no better way to celebrate than with the official wine of the season.
“Spring and summer are the seasons for rosé,” said Rob Hanks, bar manager at Reserve.
The restaurant and wine bar offers about five still and sparkling rosés by the glass. While Reserve has always put emphasis on rosé year-round, it’s really the darling of summer, pairing perfectly with “raw shellfish, seafood, patios and air,” according to Hanks.
Technically, rosé is runoff juice from red wine production. In other words, it was wine that didn’t sit on the grapes long enough to become red. With such meager beginnings, the pink wine has come a long way.
It’s extremely fashionable to be seen in public, sipping and gesturing with a glass of rosé. Bartenders across the country realized its versatility in making frozen variations (frozé), tempting wine lovers and cocktail drinkers alike.
“As wine culture in America becomes more adult, rosé offers a nice lesson into red wine. People can experiment with the red world and rosé is a great bridge,” said Hanks, who’s constantly challenging men to try it as well. “Just because it’s pink, we can get over that.”
One of his favorite selections is Haden Fig’s Pinot Gris Rosé.
There’s a significant marketing boom to pay attention to as well. Merchandise such as apparel and accessories emblazoned with the slogans “rosé all day” and “no way rosé” infiltrate boutiques. It’s become the marching orders for summertime fun.
“Merchandising speaks to how rosé is seen in the media, and more commercial entities are getting behind that as they sense that shift in culture,” said Martha’s Vineyard Wine Specialist Charlie Elkins.
He sees rosé as extremely versatile and user-friendly. The store offers an Arca Nova Vinho Verde Rosé from Portugal that’s “literally almost like liquid strawberries made from the espadeiro grape,” according to Elkins. It pairs well with fish dishes or Japanese food. Another favorite is Clos Cibonne Tibouren Rosé from 90-year-old vines in France. Elkins described it as compelling, aromatic and spicy.
Instagram’s pop-culture personality The Fat Jewish has his own brand (White Girl Rosé), as does Drew Barrymore. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Chateau Miraval Rosé sold out within five hours of its release. There’s even a rosé wine club subscription service: Summer Water Societé, where members receive bottles along with rosé-themed gifts.
“I think that rosé has definitely become a thing,” Hanks said. “Millennials feel they can closely identify with it — it’s more of a thing you can do all day long and traditionally our parents wouldn’t touch it. Millennials might feel it’s uniquely theirs.”
If you’re a red wine drinker and want to try something different this summer, Kate Leeder, co-owner of Aperitivo, will steer you to the rosé. While rosé is a garden party and poolside staple, Leeder also strongly believes it deserves year-round attention.
“If it says anything about how much we love rosé, we carry between six and eight varieties during the winter, when people think it isn’t rosé season,” said Leader. “It’s a reason to celebrate summer and it’s very approachable.”
Aperitivo’s choices mostly fall in the $15 to $20 range, so it’s a fun, easy introduction into wine without breaking your budget.
Sales have doubled in the last five years according to Elkins, who has noticed the country’s fascination and movement toward embracing European food culture.
“Wine and rosé have never been a bigger interest in West Michigan than now,” he said.
50 Shades of Rosé: Taste Test
Whether you prefer still or sparkling, there’s a pink hue just for you at Aperitivo.
Il Follo: An Italian selection with delicate bubbles, this rosé has strong notes of strawberries and cream. It has a dry finish and is perfect to pair with cheese, olives and nuts. $16/bottle; $10/glass.
Villa Wolf: From Germany, it’s delightfully refreshing, a little on the dry side, slightly minerally and offering the tiniest bit of effervescence. It has a clean finish and is great for crowds and parties. $14/bottle; $9/glass.
Bru Mont: This French option features the most acidity, is pretty dry and has tart cherry tones that give it a perfume of blossom-like appeal. $13/bottle; $8/glass.