Drinking rosé this year does not feel like the usual sort of blithe summer pastime.
It’s mostly a matter of the coronavirus pandemic and the protests against racism and police brutality, which overshadow what are really lighthearted pleasures.
But other factors are taking a toll on rosé as well. Twenty-five percent tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in October on wines from France, Spain and Germany have clouded the horizon for American sales. Paradoxically, a rosé glut was already pulling down prices.
It’s not that sales of rosé in the United States have dropped. They are still growing, just not as fast as the wine trade expected. In January, before the pandemic struck, the Nielsen company was predicting that the percentage pace of rosé’s rapid growth would slow to the single digits in retail sales.
Fashions come and fashions go. But good wine remains, whether white, red, rosé or orange, regardless of economic pressures and mood swings.
With other wines, we tend to differentiate, by grape, style and place of origin. It’s not enough to know a bottle is white, for example. Is it made of riesling, chenin blanc or something else? Is it dry, sweet, fruity?
But rosé? We let it go at pink, because, for many people, it’s not the wine they are consuming but the idea.
Arnot-Roberts California Rosé Touriga Nacional 2019 $30
Though made on Long Island, the Wölffer represents the classic pale-pink style that earned the gossip-page moniker Hamptons Water, which later inspired the Hampton Water, started by the pop star Jon Bon Jovi and his son Jesse Bongiovi. It’s amusing — to me, at least — that the Wölffer is actually produced in the Hamptons. It is made largely of merlot, with a substantial amount of chardonnay and a few other grapes as part of a blend.
Though pale rosé has come to be thought of as ideal, some of the best rosés are much darker in color, like the Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, made entirely of montepulciano d’Abruzzo. Cerasuolo means cherry-red, so you can imagine what it looks like.
The third rosé comes from Arnot-Roberts, one of the best of the new wave of California producers, which is actually not so new anymore. The wine is made from port grapes, mostly touriga nacional with some tinta cão, grown in Lake County, Calif. It’s on the paler end, closer to the Wölffer than to the Tiberio.
If you have difficulty finding any of these, try to select instead something akin to what you’re after: a pale New York or Provençal rosé for the Wölffer, a dark southern Italian bottle for the Tiberio and a pale California alternative for the Arnot-Roberts.
Drink cool rather than icy cold, and above all, don’t sweat it. Let’s let rosé do its job and cheer us up.