It may not be sunny, but it is Memorial Day weekend, and you know what I'm thinking? Pink! Rhubarb and strawberries, shrimp Louie, cherries, pink boxers, and yes, rosé.
Stand up and be counted, pink wine drinkers! Personally, I love it when a date seconds my order of rosé. A person who embraces pink wine is a person who's not afraid to get a little girly. It means that person is hey, why not? sort of person, happy to take a little vacation from the hopped-up IPAs and tannin-slugging Cabs to sip on what your aunt Cherrie would call a "swimmin' pool wine."
I have fond associations with rosé--chaise lounges, love, the South of France--but I've found that rosé really cheers anyone up, if they're man (or woman) enough to drink it.
So, what's worth pouring this weekend as you lounge under the patio umbrella? My two faves remain Bonny Doon's Vin Gris de Cigare ($15) and Domaine Tempier's Bandol Rosé ($32). The Bandol 2008 vintage has just arrived at Kermit Lynch in Berkeley; get over there now before they drink it all up. Both these wines are supple and elegant, perfect for a sunny summer lunch with cold salmon and a salad full of flowers.
Over at Bi-Rite Market, assistant wine buyer Sarah Bouldin puts the Robert Sinskey Vin Gris ($22.99) on the top of her list. "We can only get 10 cases at a time, so it goes fast. It's really well balanced, with strawberry fruitiness, a little melon." And then there's the Unti Rosé ($18.99), a biodynamic wine from Mick Unti in Healdsburg. Says Bouldin, "It's lighter than the Sinskey, a little more acidic. We're always happy to get our hands on anything Mick produces; his wines are always delicious, really outstanding."
Rosés are featured right now at the Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant, both as a flight on the tasting menu in the bar as well as in their adjoining shop. Wine buying manager Drea Dedona likes their classic Provencal rosés, of course, but also points out the Botasea Rosato di Palmino ($18), from Santa Barbara, made by winemaker Chrystal Clifton. Actually, it's hard to miss; it looks like strawberry Boone's Farm slapped with a lipstick-pink label. "I know the color's a little scary," Dedona admits, "But it's got great fruit and a little spice," thanks to a 50/30/20 blend of dolcetto, nebbiolo, and barbera grapes. There's also a reason for the pink: part of the purchase price of every bottle goes to support breast cancer research.
Were money no object, though, I'd throw down for the Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé ($80), a fabulously glam and grown-up French Champagne that glows like sunshine on pink marble.
But what if you're looking for a rosé that's more naked Carla Bruni, less Dior-clad Mme Sarkozy? Then you want Jean-Paul Brun's FRV100 ($16.99). Say it like the French do: eff-air-vay-cent. (Get it?) This is Brun's sparkling answer to soda-pop Beaujolais Nouveau: a light, fast-fermented wine with some residual sugar that's a goofy, picnic-perfect good time, not just overhyped grape juice.
From the glittery black label to the fan-dancing fizz inside, this is an unapologetic disco wine, made to get the party started. "It really should have house music pumping out of the bottle," laughs Bouldin. It's also a good way for a girl to drink and have fun without ending the evening as a drunk-dialing hot mess, thanks to an alcohol content that's just 7.5%.
Don't want to drink pink alone? Drop by Piccino on Sunday, May 31st from noon to 9 pm for Dogpatch's own festival of rosés. On the menu: pizzas, salads, a few lovely specials, and lots of rosés, all guaranteed to charm.