Rosés: Wine’s Latest Thing for Fall (& Summer)

Best Rose Wines in the U.S. | This Is My Happiness

Maybe you’ve noticed that rosés are hot these days. Ask people who like wine what they bring along for a picnic or dinner with friends, and you’re bound to hear rosé. While it’s popular on hot summer days, rosé is a versatile wine that can be a year-round choice.

Rosé wines have had a slow resurgence in American culture because they’ve been associated with the sweet pinks that were so popular in the 1980s. But rosés are not sweet wines; they’re dry and refreshing. According to Eric Asimov in The New York Times, “Good rosé must quench the thirst, first of all. Even better, it ought to energize, inspire an appetite and induce the desire for another sip.”

Best Rose Wines in the U.S. | This Is My

His article also mentions that the public drinks little else in the summer; although I certainly have noticed the increasing popularity over the last few years, not everyone is on board with this fad. I still know plenty of people who cringe at the thought of drinking pink wine or who would never imagine drinking a rosé on any day other than a hot one in July. So, if you’re new to rosés, here is what you need to know:

  • Rosés are made from the skins of any red wine grape.
  • Because they can be made from such a variety of grapes, the color of rosés varies from pale pinkish-brown to deep salmon. However, the intensity of the color rarely relates to the intensity of flavor.
  • They’re a tradition in France, and some of the world’s best come from Provence.
  • Rosés are usually dry.
  • Because they have body and flavor, they’re surprisingly versatile. The berry flavors and acidity allow for pairing with a variety of food, from tapas to spicy Asian or Indian dishes.
  • Rosé is not just a summer wine. The versatility means that you can enjoy a rosé at a fall party or, because it pairs well with poultry, at Thanksgiving dinner!

While inexpensive French rosés are easy to find in the U.S., many small American wineries are producing good quality, hand-crafted rosés. Here are a few of the best rosé wines I’ve tasted this year: (Links in orange take you to the winery; all the wines are available to order through the website or in person at their tasting rooms.)

Stinson Vineyards 2013 Rosé, Virginia

As someone who drinks mostly California wines, I was eager to try a rosé from outside California, and I’m glad I did because this Virginia wine is a winner. I brought this wine (and the next one) to dinner with friends. To my surprise, another friend who owns a winery in El Dorado County, California, was there, so we tried these first two wines together and compared notes. He also really liked this one.

It’s made from 100% Mourvédre by Stinson Vineyards, a boutique winery in Virginia. A classic rosé: a refreshing yet totally dry blend of fruity flavors with a hint of smoke. $17.99. Only 120 cases produced.


Unti 2013 Rosé, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma County, California

This was the other rosé that we tried at that dinner with friends, and our friend kept coming back to this one. A blend from 80% Grenache Noir and 20% Mourvèdre, the flavor of this wine was quite different from the other rosés I tried, yet just as refreshing. Apricot, berry, and mineral tones make a zesty but balanced wine. Unti Vineyards chooses to harvest these grapes early to make a dry wine with lower alcohol and higher acidity. $23. 1600 cases produced.



County Line 2013 Rosé, Anderson Valley, California

Another utterly refreshing rosé, which is to be expected since the first planting at County Line was for the purpose of producing a dry rosé. It’s been called the perfect oyster wine. Citrus and subtle berry notes in this bone dry rosé. Made from whole cluster pressed Champagne clone Pinot Noir. It’s sold out but look for County Line rosé next year. This one was also chosen as the favorite California rosé by The New York Times.



McCay Cellars 2013 Rosé, Lodi, California

Like many of the good wines from Lodi that I’ve tried lately, this one comes from old vines, 107-year-old Carignane vines to be exact. A dry rosé with notes of strawberry and red grapefruit. 253 cases produced at McCay Cellars. $18.

Wine McCay Cellars Rose

Mumm Napa Brut Rosé

Made by Mumm, the Napa Valley winery known for sparkling wines, this sparkling rosé is a nice wine to start a special occasion or a girls’ night. This blend of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay has fruit flavors, especially strawberry, yet is structured and dry. It has received 90+ point reviews, and by the way, I just noticed that it’s available at Trader Joe’s for about $16. Also available at the winery.

Rose Wines in the U.S. | This Is My Happiness

Photo courtesy of Mumm Napa


Trying these wines reminded me of the futility of expectations. I would not have expected the words “bone dry,” “from Virginia,” or “sparkling” to show up on a list of excellent rosés, but as I continue to try a greater variety of wines, I continue to be pleasantly surprised. If you’re interested in learning more about rosé wine, check out this article “7 Facts You Need to Know About Rosé” from Sunset Magazine.

What are you drinking this fall? Are you a fan of rosés?



  • Renuka says:

    Great info on wines! It’s only recently that I have developed interest for wines, and thus, I keep reading about different wines whenever I get a chance. Rose sounds like an exciting wine – the fact that it should quench and energize makes me want to taste it.
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    • Jenna says:

      Thanks for your comment, Renuka. I wonder if wine is popular in India. I know it has started to become popular in places like China where the elite are buying it from abroad and where grapes are now being grown.

  • Murissa says:

    I do enjoy a rosé but I am one of those people who tends to drink it only in the summertime. Although I will try your suggestion to have it with turkey.

    Here in the Okanagan we’ve got some really great producers. I usually figured that the softer the colour of a rosé the milder the flavour and more dry it was – thus I would enjoy it more. But one brand proved me wrong this summer, as your article suggests. It was a deep pink/red and was delicious and dry.

    I’ll have to give some of these American wines a go next time I am at my local wine merchant.
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    • Jenna says:

      I also tend to drink roses and whites in the summer because I’m not big on cold drinks when it’s cold outside, but I think next time I’ll try a rose that’s just slightly chilled. Some of these are small production wines and may not be available at your local wine merchant, but for those that you can’t find (and if you don’t want to order one), you can put the winery on your list for your California wine country visit. 😉

  • Kacy says:

    I love a good Rose! Great to see a Virginia wine included. There are actually a lot of great Virginia roses available right now, but I love them from all over as well. I definitely drink rose year round, although I am more likely to drink it in larger quantities in the summer. There’s just nothing like a refreshing glass of dry rose on a hot day!
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    • Jenna says:

      Yes, I agree–I rose is more inviting in the summer. But if people drink Chardonnay in the cooler months, why not rose, too? Good to know about the VA wines. It was my first try of VA wine, actually.

  • Jenna, this is such great information on Rosé wine. I’ve always appreciated a good red wine more than anything, but I’ve found myself preferring Rosé and white wines lately. Now I know which ones to look for.
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  • I would classify myself as a wine lover, but I definitely don’t know much about roses! I love that their colours can vary so much. So pretty. And tasty. 😀
    I’m on a detox right now and REALLY miss wine. Gah!!!
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  • I was one of those people who was totally skeptical of roses until last year when we visited Napa and totally bought a bottle. The bummer is we forgot to drink it this summer! Do you think it will be okay still by next summer, or should suck it up and crack that bad boy open this fall?
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    • Jenna says:

      I’m not surprised that you found a rose that you liked in Napa. It seems that every winery is including a rose in its tasting flights these days. Roses are best opened within 2 years of being bottled, so check the year of your bottle and try to drink it while it’s still young. From what I read, the flavors diminish as the wine ages. You could try it for the holidays this year (it is good with poultry or with flavorful appetizers).

  • Andi says:

    I am not a huge fan of rose but I do drink it from time to time and actually love the ones from J Winery in Healdsburg. I drink them all year round as well!
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  • Brianna says:

    I’m generally not a rose person. It takes a special one to pique my interest
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    • Jenna says:

      I am a red wine fan. No matter what the food, weather, or occasion, I always prefer a red, so I’ve been trying expand my knowledge of other types of wines. Fortunately, I found a couple of roses and whites this year that I would happily drink over a red in the right situation. 🙂

  • Tricia says:

    Jenna, enjoyed your Rosé round-up. It was timely, because just a few weekends ago, we brought a Moldovan Rosé to our Balinese-German friends’ home for dinner, and it paired nicely with the hostess’ spicy food. When we participated in Moldova’s grape harvest earlier in the fall, glasses of Rosé were also cropping up frequently. With blue skies overhead and unusually-warm weather, the wine was refreshing. Despite the fact that Moldova’s winemakers make great red and white wine too (using international varietals and some grapes that are unique to the region), somehow the Rosés seemed to define my visual memories there. I’m sure that if we visited the country during another season, images of the reds or whites would be dancing through my mind now. 🙂
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