While May flowers seem to get all the attention, our favorite thing that April showers bring is rosé season. The wine's styles can range from slightly sweet crowd pleasers to full-bodied dark hues, not far removed from light red wine.
Rosés—not to be confused with sweet blush-colored White Zinfandels—are typically made from red grapes, but the juice only stays in contact with the red-grape skins for a short time, resulting in a pink-colored wine rather than a red one. For warm-weather dining, rosés are indispensable for their versatility and quenching demeanor.
A cheerful and popular iteration can be found in the Alexander Valley Vineyards Dry Rosé of Sangiovese 2010 ($15, Bacchus Importers Ltd.). Sangiovese is the signature grape of Chianti, but in this Californian rosé, it delivers a juicy mouthful of strawberry jam and watermelon. This wine is for chilling and sipping outdoors while firing up the grill.
Once the grill is hot and cookin', it's time for something more serious, like the Estampa Estate Rosé 2010 ($13, LVDH). A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah from Chile, it showcases the more serious side of rosé with its fresh Bing-cherry flavors, lip-smacking crispness, and dark color to go with its deeper flavors. It's ideal for bold flavors like ribs.
For a wine that does it all, look no further than Domaine Pelaquie Tavel 2010 ($19, Voila! Imports). Tavel is unique in France's Rhône Valley because the town only makes rosé. All the care and effort of the growing season is directed to this one specialty. The wine leads with cool tones of tart strawberry and soft raspberry, with a mineral vein that begs for food. Composed principally of Cinsault and Grenache grapes, this finessed and elegant rosé is charming as an aperitif and elegant enough to elevate any meal.