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Become a Rosé Wine Expert in 12 Bottles

Everything you need to know about pink wine in one easy lesson

Pix Editors By April 19, 2022
rose bottles in front of lavender field background
Illustration by Pix. Lavender field in Provence, France. Photo by Atanamir/iStock.

Rosé, once synonymous with subpar — and generally sweet, thanks to the white Zinfandel phenomenon — swill, has made a high-quality comeback. Today, quality-focused rosé is produced across the globe, made from a variety of grapes, and vinified in a number of styles. 

There is so much variety, in fact, that rosé is becoming an increasingly confusing category. But never fear — to understand rosé, you just need to grasp a few basic principles.

Quick Facts

  • Benchmark regions: Provence, Languedoc, Rhône Valley, Rioja, California.
  • Main grape varieties: Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, Tempranillo, Pinot Noir.
  • Styles: From sweet to bone dry.

How rosé is made

Most rosé is produced via the direct press or maceration methods. The former involves simply pressing the juice out of red grapes, which shows a barely-there hue to it, and vinifying it directly. The latter incorporates directly pressing juice out of red and/or white wine grapes and letting the red juice macerate for short periods of time with the skin, creating a pink-hued wine. In Champagne, rosé is made simply by blending still red wine into bubbly white wine to achieve its pink color. 

Top rosé producing regions

Although France’s Provence region is synonymous with world-class rosé production — over 90% of the wines produced within the region are pink — there are many other regions producing high-quality bottles. France alone is home to some of the world’s most important rosé-producing regions, including the Languedoc, Rhône Valley, Loire Valley, and beyond. Outside of France, benchmark rosé is also produced in Italy, Spain, the United States, Austria, Australia, and other regions. Not sure where to begin?

Here’s a quick breakdown of what rosé production looks like on a global scale, plus 12 unmissable bottles to get started. 

France

France is by far the world’s largest producer of rosé wine. The southerly wine-producing regions within the country, namely Provence, Languedoc, and Rhône Valley, are responsible for the majority of the world’s pink wines. Elsewhere in France, rosé is made in nearly every other region — think the Loire Valley, Beaujolais, Bordeaux, and beyond — though its most popular non-south area is most definitely the Loire Valley, which is responsible for the production of Sancerre rosé, Rosé d’Anjou, and more. 

Italy

Pink wines are made throughout a handful of Italian regions, though the most popular are Veneto and Lombardy, particularly around Lake Garda, plus Puglia, and Sicily. Garda’s famed Chiaretto rosés are mostly produced from the region’s signature Valpolicella grapes, whereas southerly rosés focus more on Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Nerello Mascalese in Sicily. 

Spain

Known locally as rosado, Spanish rosé is most widely produced in the Rioja and Navarra areas of northern Spain. As with the red wines of these regions, the most popular grape varieties used are Tempranillo and Grenache, respectively. Generally speaking, Spanish rosados tend to be a bit darker-hued than rosés from other countries. 

United States

Rosé wines are produced all over the United States, from California and Oregon to the East Coast regions of the North Fork, Finger Lakes, and beyond. A variety of grapes and styles are used, depending on the region in question. A good rule of thumb? Think about the red wines produced within a given area and take it from there — the rosés likely use the same fruit. 

Other regions

Outside of France, Italy, Spain, and the United States, rosé wines are also produced in Austria, Germany, Australia, South Africa, and beyond.

12 bottles to try:

France

bottle of Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel Provence Rosé 2021

Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel Provence Rosé 2021 (~$19)

Whispering Angel is not only one of the most popular rosé on the market, it also helped kick-start the current rosé boom. Produced by winemaker Sacha Lichine, this beloved pink wine is produced from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Rolle, otherwise known as Vermentino. The wine’s refreshing nature, easy-to-pronounce name, and overall wide availability make it one of the top go-to rosé picks year in and year out. 

bottle of Domaines Ott Château de Selle Côtes de Provence Rosé 2020

Domaines Ott Château de Selle Côtes de Provence Rosé 2020 (~$42)

Recognized for its signature slender bottle, Domaines Ott rosés have become some of the most sought-after pink wines on the market — however, don’t let the signature shape fool you. Believe it or not, the estate actually crafts four different rosé wines in this fashionable packaging: Château de Selle, Clos Mireille, Château Romassan, and Étoile, though the former tends to be the most widely available. Made from a majority of Grenache rounded out with Mourvèdre and Cinsault, this pale pink wine is lengthy and saline tinged — a direct reflection of the limestone soils and seaside vineyards from which it comes. 

bottle of Château Minuty ‘M de Minuty’ Provence Rosé 2020

Château Minuty ‘M de Minuty’ Provence Rosé 2020 (~$17)

This fresh and fruit-driven rosé hails from the famed Château Minuty, the No. 1 selling rosé estate in all of Europe. Additionally, the winery is one of 18 designated cru classé wineries in the Côtes de Provence, meaning that its prestige is quite high, although its bottle costs are actually quite reasonable. This budget-friendly rosé wine is produced mostly from Grenache and Cinsault. The wine is light on its feet, bright, and very easy to drink on its own, though it particularly comes to life with sushi, fresh seafood, or Provence-inspired niçoise salads. 

bottle of Miraval Provence Rosé 2020

Miraval Provence Rosé 2020 (~$19)

Casually referred to as the “Brangelina” winery, Miraval’s impressive Provençal roots actually date back to 1850. Purchased by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie back in 2008, the couple married there six years later, though Jolie sold her shares of the business after the pair’s divorce. Winemaking at Miraval is overseen by the famed Perrin family, most famous for their hearty red wines from the Rhône Valley. This blend of Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle, and Syrah is mostly vinified in steel, though a touch of barrel fermentation adds a pleasant weightiness to this bright, mineral-driven wine. The wine finishes medium-bodied and bone dry in the mouth, with a juicy, floral-hinted persistence.

bottle of Diving into Hampton Water Rosé 2020

Diving into Hampton Water Rosé 2020 (~$16)

Born in France, and raised in the Hamptons, that’s the motto of Hampton Water Rosé. This bi-continental collaboration is the brainchild of Jesse Bongiovi, son of Jon Bon Jovi, and French winemaking legend Gérard Bertrand. Crafted from hand-picked fruit in the sunny South of France, Hampton Water seeks to embody the laid-back lifestyles and overall sense of joie de vivre exuded by both of these heralded corners of the world. Despite its aging in new French oak, this signature blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Cinsault remains light and easy to drink. 

bottle of M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020

M. Chapoutier Belleruche Côtes du Rhône Rosé 2020 (~$13)

Michel Chapoutier is one of the most influential winemakers in all of France. An early pioneer of organic and biodynamic farming, Chapoutier has since become one of the benchmark producers for executing said practices on a large scale, while also maintaining a robust line of affordable wines. His Belleruche line of wines, produced in red, white, and rosé, highlights the varieties and terroir of the Côtes du Rhône. This Grenache-dominant blend is vinified entirely in steel, so as to maintain the wine’s refreshing acidity and fruit-forward nature. 

bottle of Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rosé 2020

Domaine Vacheron Sancerre Rosé 2020 (~$38)

Sancerre is by and large one of the most beloved styles of French white wine, though small amounts of red and rosé are also made within the coveted appellation, too. Founded over 120 years ago, Domaine Vacheron has long been a benchmark estate for high-quality wines and certified organic/biodynamic farming within the region. Produced from 100% Pinot Noir hailing from 30- to 50-year-old vines, this earth-driven rosé is flinty, fresh, and unbelievably savory. Pair with a variety of hearty foods, including salmon, goat cheese salads, or lobster. 

United States

bottle of A Tribute to Grace Santa Barbara Rosé of Grenache 2021

A Tribute to Grace Santa Barbara Rosé of Grenache 2021 (~$29)

Spearheaded by talented winemaker Angela Osborne, A Tribute to Grace focuses exclusively on Grenache-based wines — and her monovarietal rosé is no exception. A New Zealand native, Osborne’s passion for wine led her to work harvest in California, which in turn, caused her to fall down the Grenache rabbit hole. Osborne currently works with numerous sites in Santa Barbara and the Sierra Foothills; the former of which is where she grows fruit for her noteworthy rosé. The wine sees 24 hours of skin contact prior to fermenting for 50-plus days and aging for 13 months on its lees in steel, which adds texture and complexity to this multifaceted wine. A Tribute to Grace Rosé has become a go-to pink favorite of industry folk and consumers alike, as it highlights just how thought-provoking pink wine from the West Coast can be. 

bottle of Maison Noir Love Drunk Oregon Rosé 2021

Maison Noir Love Drunk Oregon Rosé 2021 (~$15)

Maison Noir is a lifestyle project that produces both T-shirts and Oregon wines, founded by sommelier, winemaker, and designer André Hueston Mack. Now in its 15th year, Maison Noir wines continues to incorporate “a trademark attitude of personal perspective on wine subculture” via each product crafted under its name. Love Drunk rosé is produced from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Expect a medium-bodied, flavor-packed wine that promises to satisfy a variety of palate preferences. 

Southern Europe

bottle of Feudo Montoni Rose Di Adele 2020

Feudo Montoni Rosé di Adele Sicily Nerello Mascalese 2020 (~$22)

Feudo Montoni is one of southern Italy’s most iconic and long-standing estates. Founded in 1469, today, the estate is overseen by the third generation of the Sireci family, who took over the estate’s production during the late 1800s. This varietal Nerello Mascalese rosé is a textbook expression of what well-made pink wine from the region can be: it’s earthy, it’s savory, and it’s loaded with flavors of red fruit, crushed stones, ash, and saline. For a taste of Italian island culture in one of its finest forms, look no further than this bottle. 

bottle of CVNE Rioja Rosado 2020

CVNE Rioja Rosado 2020 (~$11)

For those who prefer their rosé wines on the darker side of things, this varietal Tempranillo rosado promises to please. This wine is produced at the hands of one of Rioja’s largest and most-respected estates. CVNE macerates fruit destined for this rosado for 36 hours prior to vinifying the juice entirely in steel. Expect flavors of strawberries, stone fruits, and a touch of white flowers on the palate. Disclaimer, the hue of a rosé does not determine the wine’s sweetness! This dark-colored rosé is as dry as they come.

Other regions

bottle of Pratsch Niederösterreich Organic Rosé 2020

Pratsch Niederösterreich Organic Rosé 2020 (~$14)

Austria may be better known for their zesty white wines, but rosés like this will have you contemplating just how tasty central European pink wines can be. Overseen by Stefan Pratsch, this eponymous estate is made up of nearly 50 acres of vines dedicated to 13 single-vineyard sites in the Lower Austria subregion of the country. Stefan joined the estate at just 15 years old to take over the winemaking aspect of the business, so as to allow his parents to dedicate themselves to converting the entire estate to organic farming. This tasty rosé is produced entirely from estate-grown Zweigelt vinified entirely in steel tanks. At just 11.5% ABV, this relatively low-alcohol wine is a delicious, food-friendly match for brunch fare, happy hour snacks, and beyond.