Ahh, summer is finally back and, with it, the longest day of the year. And what better way to celebrate the season of the sun than by sipping a perfectly chilled rosé?
It goes without saying that I am a ginormous fan of the pinks and can’t be bothered waiting until the first day of summer to enjoy them. I know some people are skeptical of rosés because they think they are going to be sweet. My advice to you is to suspend your skepticism and try a couple. After all, how do you know you don’t like something until you try it? When my daughter was little, I always encouraged her to take “adventure” bites of food that she assumed were going to be icky. To this day, she still loves mac ‘n cheese, baked sweet potatoes, and biscuits and gravy.
When I was growing up, summer always meant grilled hamburgers were back on the dinner menu. While my mom would be indoors preparing the potato salad and baked beans, my dad would be getting the grill ready. With a cold beer in one hand and a spatula in the other, he would happily stand in the aromatic swirls of smoked meats, adjusting heat levels with culinary precision.
As I watched my dad, I realized that barbecuing looked fun and wondered why my mom never grilled. I mean, she planned the meal, shopped for the meal and got everything ready for the meal, and then my dad waltzes in and steals the show by being the default grill master. What kind of pretzel logic is that?
As the primary chef de cuisine in my house, I get first dibs on whether or not I want to grill. Unlike my dad, though, I have a succulent rosé in one hand while I stand at the helm of the grill inhaling the perfume of sizzling fat and well-seasoned meat. Rosé is quite literally like summer in a bottle and it goes swimmingly with grilled anything. Rosés also capture the essence of the season with aromas and flavors of watermelon, fresh strawberries, lemon-thyme, rhubarb and occasionally the tangy taste of a salty breeze.
Yes, some rosés are sweeter than others and these are the ones to serve with hot and spicy grilled meats and seafood; a very dry rosé high in alcohol is like putting gas on a flame when it comes to spicy foods.
I have been researching rosés for the better part of a month in preparation for this column and have narrowed it down to my top 5 favorites. Following is my rosé round-up:
2022 La Valentina Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Italy ($12.99, downtown Bellingham Food Co-op): This full-bodied Italian rosato is made from 100% Montepulciano grapes; the texture is creamy and juicy with notes of cherries, strawberries and a hint of briny sea salt. La Valentina is a superb value.
2021 Pikasi Barbera Rosé, Slovenia ($14.99, downtown Food Co-op): I hesitated for a hot minute before buying this wine because I was skeptical about a Barbera from Slovenia and not Italy. Do not hesitate in buying this rosé — it was fantastic. Impressions of ripe summer fruit with a hint of sweetness make this a go-to wine when using hot BBQ sauce.
2022 Moulin de Gassac Guilhem, Languedoc, France ($14.99, downtown Food Co-op): This wine comes from the estate of Mas Daumas de Gassac, often referred to as the Grand Cru of the Midi (South of France). This magical blend of syrah, grenache and carignan was like drinking Rainier cherries and watermelon with a squeeze of lime juice.
2022 La Bastide Blanche Bandol Rosé, Provence, France ($29.95, Old World Deli): When researching rosés, you must include one from Provence, an area renowned for its wine, especially rosé. The 2022 Bastide is a blend of mostly mourvedre, cinsault and grenache. The wine is dry with a touch of minerality punctuated by tangerine peel, ripe strawberry and grapefruit. It’s a bit of a splurge, but a must for rosé fans.
2021 The Marigny Piquette “Wine Like Beverage,” Willamette Valley, Oregon ($14.95, Old World Deli): If Christos Adams, the owner of Old World Deli, hadn’t put this in my hand, I never would have bought it. Why buy a “wine-like beverage” when I can buy the real deal? I pushed my skepticism aside and decided to take one for the team. Attention, beer drinkers! This is the wine for you. At 4.9% alcohol, you can watch your partner “man” the grill like nobody’s business and still be able to do the dishes.
Grill on, ladies — there’s a rosé out there just waiting for you.
Katie Bechkowiak owned Vinostrology wine bar in downtown Bellingham from 2013–19. If you have wine suggestions for her monthly column, contact email@example.com.