Rosé: Pink Without Blushing

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Wine, Summer, Outdoor Party

Real rosé — not the sugary stuff that gained popularity a generation ago as White Zinfandel, but the dry versions that are now increasingly popular — is arguably the most versatile wine on the planet.

As its color suggests, rosé typically lies between white and red on the weight spectrum, which means that it pairs beautifully with most of the foods we associate with both white wine and red wine. It usually has ample amounts of acidity, keeping your palate fresh and cutting through the richness of buttery or fried dishes. That quality makes it fast friends with most preparations of seafood, fish, vegetables, chicken and pork. Richer rosés can even stand up to red meat so long as it is not an extraordinarily heavy dish. Because many rosés are fruit-forward with notes of raspberries, cherries or pomegranate, and low in bitter tannins, they are also miraculously refreshing with spicy dishes such as Rachael Ray’s Tandoori Chicken.

Rosé hails from all parts of the world but its spiritual homeland is Mediterranean Europe and especially southern France, where rosés labeled with the regions Tavel, Bandol and Côtes de Provence have fired the lavender-scented dreams of many a summer traveler. Try a bottle with Sandra Lee’s Chicken Breast Fillets, Michael Chiarello’s Baked Pommes Frites or Alton Brown’s Bouillabaisse and you’ll see why.

Often ringing up at $15 or less, fine rosé also originates in non-European locales, including the U.S., where it is often a bit richer in style and color. When the weather is warm and the grill is ablaze, it’s almost a necessity to have a case of it on hand. There may not be a better wine to accompany dishes such as Giada’s Grilled Tuna With Basil Pesto, Bobby’s Grilled Link Hot Dogs With Homemade Pickle Relish, or just a side of Melissa d’Arabian’s Ratatouille.

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Mark Oldman is a wine expert, acclaimed author and lead judge of the series The Winemakers. He shares with readers the basics of wine, while making it fun and practical.