Summer is coming. Springs blossoms have turned to lush greenery, windows are open, pasty legs are making their annual debut, and everyone is craving their preferred warm weather libation. Maybe you can’t wait for the season’s first Brooklyn Pennant Ale. Perhaps your summer doesn’t start until you’re sipping a margarita poolside. For me, warm weather means one thing: rosé.
I’m not the only one. The blush stuff is blowing up Instagram feeds everywhere. Last summer, the fancy folk summering in the Hamptons guzzled so much rosé that wine stores had to start rationing bottles toward the end of the season. “It’s definitely a summer thing,” says Young Jung, owner of The Winey Neighbor in Prospect Heights. “People are more open minded [about rosé] than when we opened 3 and a 1/2 years ago. Everyone always asked me, “Is it sweet?”
Rosé is not, as I’d previously imagined, what happens when you pour Chardonnay into the same glass from which you drained the party’s last drops of Cabernet Sauvignon. There’s actually a huge variety available, not just the cloyingly sweet Franzia that you drank straight from the bag as a lousy teenager. So how do you find the right rosé for you? “Always ask,” says Jung. “Otherwise you are judging a book by its cover. For me personally, I want a rosé that’s light, crisp, refreshing. Just ask for what you want.”
You can also take our word for it, since we gathered up a panel of rosévanglists, a few staunch anti-blushians, and one token Bro-sé, and did a blind taste test of 11 bottles under $10, while listening to The Pink Print #onrepeat. The panel rated each wine on overall taste, smell, drinkability, and dryness so you can make your summer wine season cheap but tasty.
[NOTE: This isn’t an entirely scientific ranking—after 5-6 rounds of rosé some panelists experienced a form of psychic death and wrote things like “Who even cares anymore?” instead of sticking to the metrics. Regardless, here are the findings, starting from the bottom:]
#11 Jason’s Vinyard Rosé – $8.99/750 ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop.
This “higher end” bottle scored the lowest for overall taste. More than one person speculated that this fruit punch-forward liquid was Boone’s Farm or Mad Dog 20/20. The scents detected, however, are even more sinister:
Meghan S.: It smells like spaghetti sauce.
Britney: Grapes and ASS.
Tim: I’d only drink this if I lost a fight.
#10 Charles Shaw White Zinfandel – $2.99/750 ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop (duh)
Perhaps it’s not shocking that the infamous “Three Buck Chuck” didn’t receive dazzling scores. Our tasters found it to be overly sweet, and several mentioned “prison” in their review. However, brand loyalty is strong, one reviewer made a special request to take the remains of this low-ranking bottle home.
Megan D: Tastes like medicine laced with confectioners sugar.
Kelsey: I’d only drink this at a picnic, because it seemed like a good idea, and now its the only option.
Jackie: If I drank two of these, I’d puke.
#9 Sutter Home White Zinfandel – $6.99/750 ml, Arena Wine Depot.
A staple of any Applebee’s menu or suburban book club, Sutter Home did not fare too well amongst our tasters. Perhaps the strongest note in this overly-sweet libation was…nuptial?
Amber: It taste’s like a bridal shower gone wrong.
Meghan S: Maybe I’d drink this at the end of a wedding reception if it was the only thing my boyfriend could steal form the bar.
Britney: I’d drink it in a pool at a horrible engagement party.
#8 Grifone Rosé – $4.99/750 ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop
This Trader Joe’s exclusive didn’t rank very highly overall, but most of our tasters acknowledged that it was on the dryer side, while inexplicably causing people to feel…desperation.
Fikriyyah: This is strong and bitter, I’d drink this at home trying to forget about the last douche I online dated.
Amber: This has an overwhelming smell of gummy bears. Reminds me of being trapped on family vacation.
Tim: I would only drink this to prevent someone else from drinking it.
#7 Chateau Diana White Zinfandel *WINE PRODUCT* – $6.99/750 ml, Compare Foods
I’m as shocked as anyone that this bodega staple managed to land so, well, not dead last. While this was rated the sweetest by a landslide, some tasters seemed resigned to the fruity mediocrity of this *WINE PRODUCT*
Fikriyyah: This has no sophistication. Tastes like peach-y juice with alcohol added.
Kelsey: The most fruit punch (to the ovary) of the night.
Maddie: It should be noted that almost everyone said “uggghhhh” after smelling this.
#6 Josefina Syrah Rosé – $5.99/750ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop
Personally, I really liked this one, it was earthy and fizzy, and was universally voted as dryer than most of the others, a great thing in my book. However, it caused some interesting reactions among the group.
Megan D: Smells like a Nintendo cartridge?
Khadija: I’d drink this alone…because it’s sad.
Megan Y: Unsubscribe.
#5 Mouton Cadet Bourdeaux Rosé – $8.99/750ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop
This one was…fine. It rated middle of the road for sweetness and drinkability, and no one really had a whole lot to say about it.
Maddie: I’d drink this at a Sandal’s resort.
Jackie: Not good, not bad.
#4 Bieler Pere Et Fils Rossé – $8.99/750 ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop
This one was rated dry and drinkable. The grassy notes make it a perfect bottle to enjoy in the most summer of settings:
Khadija: This one is for day drinking.
Amber: This would go well with a big steak dinner on a porch I don’t have.
Tim: A perfectly acceptable Prospect Park accessory.
#3 Le Rosé Du Chateau Candastre – $9.99/750ml , New York Wine Exchange
This fancy french variety was voted the driest of all our samples. Most found it low key enough to drink a few of, despite one taster’s unfortunate experience.
Kelsey: There’s stuff floating in this one.
Britney: Kelsey found shit in her wine. This is the funniest wine.
#2 Espiral Vinho Rosé – $4.99/750ml, Trader Joe’s Wine Shop
This bargain bottle ended up being quite a pleasant surprise. Crisp, fresh, with a light effervesance; the price is right for everyday drinking, but the taste makes it suitable for celebrations or fancy affairs as well.
Khadija: Refreshing, apricot, and it smells delicious.
Meghan S: Tight and bubbly, like Nicki Minaj.
Tim: Bubbly and fun, like kombucha even!
#1 Laurent Miquel Pere et Fils Syrah Rosé – $9.75/750ml, The Winey Neighbor
Topping off the list, this one smacks of grapefruit and earthy minerals. It was markedly more complex then many of our other samples (I’m looking at you, Chateau Diana). It just goes to show: visit your neighborhood wine shop, they will HOOK. YOU. UP.
Fikriyyah: Grapefruit and bubblegum? I like it.
Maddie: Mmmm minerals, I could kill a bottle of this while watching Gilmore Girls.
Jackie: I’d drink one of these just chilling. Or 5.
So that’s all folks! The takeaways are: don’t judge a wine by its color, dryer is generally better, and for the love of GODDESS, don’t drink 11 different rosés in one night. Now get thee to your local wine shop before they have to start rationing bottles again!
Thanks to our talented tasting panel: Jackie Hughes, Megan Yanchitis, Kelly Murphy, Khadija Ahmed, Meghan Stephens, Kelsey Schaberg, Britney Harsh, Megan Doherty, Fikriyyah George, Amber Chandler, and our token Bro, Tim Donnelly.