Photo by Danny KimWhether you call it rose, rosato, or rosado, it's summer's most refreshing wine. But before we tell you how to find the right hue for you, what, exactly, is rose?
There are two ways to make rose. Saignee (sen-YAY, or "bled") is the practice of "bleeding off" lightly tinted juice after a brief maceration with the grapes. Since wine's color comes from the skins, the longer you "steep" the grape, the darker and more tannic the rose gets. The second (and usually less respected) way is to simply blend white wine with red to make pink.
Look for the word saignee when buying rose Champagne. Made only from skin-macerated Pinot Noir grapes, it's a heartier, duskier (and pricier, but worth it) breed of bubbly.
Drink: Jean Vesselle NV Champagne Brut Rose de Saignee, $54
Made in the USA
Are you a Pinot freak? If so, you'll love California Pinot Noir roses (Sonoma County versions are a good place to start). Not only do you get crisp brightness and warm spice in the glass, you'll also get a (much) more affordable expression of this pricey varietal.
Drink: Cep 2012 Pinot Noir Rose Russian River Valley, $22
The Wild Card
Here's another word to look for: ramato. It means "coppery," and it's typically attached to Northeast Italian Pinot Grigio that's taken on a deeper shade and tangier flavor as a result. It's the training-wheels version of the more robust and buzzy "orange wines."
Drink: Scarbolo 2011 "Ramato XL" Pinot Grigio Venezia-Giulia, $23
Roses are typically associated with hot, coastal locales and the briny flavors of the sea. The slightly fizzy rosados of Txakoli, from the Atlantic coast of the Basque region, are as seafood-ready as they come.
Drink: Ameztoi 2012 "Rubentis" Rosado Getariako Txakolina, $22
Rose is made from myriad grapes all over the world, but Provence is where you'll find the best: appellations such as Bandol and Cotes de Provence, who put the pink first.
Drink: Chateau de Pibarnon 2012 Rose Bandol, $26
Italian rosato is often dark and voluptuous. It also happens that many of the grapes chosen for rosato are deeply colored to begin with: Montepulciano in Abruzzo, Ciliegiolo on the Mediterranean coast, Lagrein in the Dolomites. This is full, fruity stuff often masquerading as a light red.
Drink: Cataldi Madonna 2012 Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo, $15
ABOVE ALL ELSE, FOLLOW THESE TWO RULES
1. Buy the right vintage: Steve Martin's character in The Jerk says to a waiter at a fancy restaurant, "Let's splurge. Bring us some fresh wine! The freshest you've got--this year! No more of this old stuff." Had he been talking about rose, he would have actually been right on. Drink rosÃ©s from the most recent vintage possible, in this case 2012. RosÃ© is all about freshness and welcoming a new growing season. Buy rose and drink it now.
2. Break out the ice bucket: As a purist, I'm loath to serve any wine very cold, since it tends to dull flavors. But with rose, I say chill the you-know-what out of it. The cold helps maintain the electric zing so critical to the rose experience. This isn't about depth, it's about refreshment. So dunk it!
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