Serious Grape: Drink Pink

On Fridays, Deb Harkness (Good Wine Under $20) joins us to talk wine. Take it away, Deb!

This weekend, it's officially summer. How do I celebrate the longest day of the year? I drink pink.

I'm not talking about the White Zinfandels of the 70s. I'm talking about serious rosé wine that is dry or barely off-dry, fruity, and has lots of character. What's more, it is refreshing, pairs well with grilled foods (especially grilled tuna or other meaty fish), and is the perfect partner for hot dogs.

You can get some excellent rosés for under $20, too. They're made from all sorts of grapes, and come from all over the world. If you are a rosé skeptic, cast your doubts aside this summer and check out my recommendations for some of the best bottlings available. Whether from Spain, France, the United States, or some other region, rosé wines will surprise and delight you with their winning taste and affordable prices.

Notes on Recommended Rosés: rosé wines are classically made to be dry—that is, they are not sweet. Sometimes you will find off-dry (slightly sweet) bottlings, and they're great with spicy food. Rosés are released just about this time of year, so look for the new arrivals in your favorite wine store.

2008 Tapena Rosé comes from Spain's Castilla-La Mancha region. It's a juicy rosé made from Monastrell, Garnacha, and a touch of Syrah. Pale cranberry in color—the darkest rose I've seen this year—with aromas of chalk, cherry, and herbs. Flavors of strawberry and raspberry, very juicy and lush. Would be great with grilled meat. (find this wine)

2008 Domaine Sainte-Eugénie Corbières Rosé is made from grapes grown in France's Languedoc region. This wine really grows on you. Made from Cinsault and Syrah, it's pale hot pink in color with cranberry and strawberry aromatics. Flavors are a refreshing balance of mineral and fruit, and the fruit leans towards the currant-cranberry spectrum. Kept going back for more. (find this wine)

2008 Robert Skalli Côtes de Provence Reserve Rosé is from Provence—the part of France that's synonymous with rosé. Blended from Grenache and Syrah, the wine has a true rose color with stone, berry, and floral aromas. The strawberry and raspberry flavors have a nice chewiness that speaks to the underlying tannins. This wine was just under $20, but well worth it and will appeal to red wine lovers. (It's a new release, so check your local wine store.)

2005 Barton & Guestier Rosé d'Anjou is made in the Loire Valley. It's a lovely salmon pink in color and has honeycomb and raspberry aromas. The wine's strawberry and raspberry flavors are a hair off dry—so it will be very nice with your spiciest summer foods. (find this wine)

2008 Maison Henry Bouachon Tavel La Rouvière is from the France's Southern Rhône. It will appeal to traditionalists, with its mixture of Grenache, Bourboulenc, Cinsault, Clairette, and Carignan. Expect faint rose petal aromas, a deep rose color, and lots of stone and berry in the flavors with a distinctive, bitter almond aftertaste. (A new release, keep your eyes peeled for this in the store.)

2007 Fort Ross Vineyard Rosé of Pinot Noir is made down the road from where I sit typing this post, on the remote stretches of Sonoma's coast. I look forward every year to the release of this special, elegant wine that's made in small quantities, with its fresh strawberry and mineral aromas and flavors. (find this wine)

Full Disclosure: I received all but the Fort Ross Vineyard wine as samples.