Rosé occupies a niche somewhere between fashion statement and serious wine. You see people hanging at a bar or on an outdoor patio swirling it with a flourish, while others nearby are savoring it with food, their noses buried deep in the glass. What’s generally missing is any hint of pretension. It’s not easy to come across as snobbish with a glass of the pink stuff in your hand—but rosé varies as much in color, style and quality as does white, red or sparkling wine. These three picks are wonderful, moderately priced and distinctively different enough from one another for you to enjoy in different ways.
Acrobat Rosé of Pinot Noir, Oregon, 2016
Pinot noir makes superb rosé because of its refreshing acid and low tannin. Each person has their own idea of the “right” color for a rosé, but it depends on the grape variety’s skin pigmentation and the duration of contact it’s given with the juice. This charmer from Oregon features a slightly brighter-than-average hue, a strawberry-like, stony aroma and lively, tart flavors. Fruity, clean and mellow, it’s delicious with a tomato caprese salad, smoked salmon or prosciutto.
$15, Hanover Wine & Spirits, Boston
Portugal Ramos Vinho Verde Rosé, Portugal, 2016
This is made by one of Portugal’s most gifted winemakers, originally from the Alentejo region, but now branching out to the country’s far north. A blend of local grapes (half Touriga Nacional and half Espadeiro), the wine is medium-deep in color, with orange tones and a brilliant tangerine, citrus note. For those with a long memory, it’s nothing like Mateus or Lancers. In fact, the only resemblance is a giveaway price. Bone dry and minerally, with a hint of tart cranberry and tangy lemon peel, this wine is great with cold fish salads.
$9, Blanchards Wines and Spirits, Boston
Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Coastal Region, 2016
This is that rare rosé created from cabernet sauvignon, South Africa’s most widely planted red. Ripe in flavor, with wild berry, rose petal, juicy red fruit notes, it’s a deliciously herb-accented bone-dry wine from one of South Africa’s most pedigreed producers. On the spicy side, with a bit more body than your average rosé, this wine is still delightful with a chill and will complement fish or roasted chicken beautifully.
$13, Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors, Boston
Sandy Block is a master of wine and the vice president of beverage operations for Legal Sea Foods.