September reminds us that nothing lasts forever. The days are getting shorter, the sun a little softer. The time to truly savor sweet corn and sun-kissed tomatoes — to go all out with just-plucked garden fare, good friends, and wine glasses brimming with rosé — is now.
Any end-of-summer soirée might be celebrated with "the very pink of perfection." For inspiration, I polled some of my favorite wine merchants across the country, seeking their rosé picks and food pairings for a proper end-of-summer salute.
Rosé is great alongside heirloom tomatoes.
Make it impromptu — or not.
The wine: 2010 Francois Chidaine, Touraine, Grolleau-Pinot Noir Rosé ($15)
The story: Kerri Pratt curates storied wines for her shop The Wine Bottega in Boston’s North End, recently called out as one of the top natural wine stores in the country by Food & Wine magazine. Her end-of-summer-fête find is limited (only 150 cases were imported to the U.S.) and is crafted by one of the notable winemakers of the Loire.
“Located in Montlouis sur Loire, immediately across the river from Vouvray, Francois Chidaine humbly tends his vines with extraordinary care and precision,” says Pratt. “Though certified as an organic producer, Chidaine has elected to keep the certification off of the label.”
“Generally a producer of magnificent Chenin Blanc, the winemaker crafted a small amount of this excellent rosé, made from local red grapes, including Grolleau — almost always made into a rosé and pinot noir.”
The dish: “Elegant, refreshing, and infinitely subtle, this vibrant rosé could be the ideal foil to a delicate pasta dish — grilled scallops and a myriad of tasty fresh veggies!”
The wine: 2010 Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé ($37)
The story: Lori Varsames suggests this classic favorite of the team at KLWM. “Of all the domaines we represent, no other stands more as our cornerstone, serves in the defense of terroir, and is more intricately interwoven with our own history, than that of the iconic Peyraud family of Domaine Tempier,” she writes. “Beyond our affection and the enduring bonds of our friendship, objectively the celebrity of Domain Tempier also lies deep in the soils of Bandol. Variations of clay and limestone soils between the vineyards produce wines that are undeniably world-class. If any wine can be said to have a soul, it’s Tempier.”
The dish: Kermit Lynch suggests his favorite direct-from-Provence appetizer this summer: “Nine-minute boiled eggs, shelled, halved, and topped with a spoonful of tapenade,” he writes. “Or toast levain or baguette and scrape with a fresh garlic clove, drip some olive oil on it, and lay an anchovy or two on top.”
The wine: 2010 Cal Demoura Coteaux du Languedoc Rosé ($16.99)
The story: “I like this wine for the latter part of summer and early fall because it is quite rich and robust, in contrast to the light, fresh rosés of Provence that are popular in May and June,” says Sophie Barrett of Chambers Street Wines. “It’s a nice transitional wine between the seasons, a wine that will remind the drinker of a light red wine.” The wine is based on traditional grape varieties of the Languedoc: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvèdre.
The dish: “The intense, ripe, red-fruit aromas and flavors of this wine make it a great choice for meaty fishes like tuna. Season and sear a tuna steak, slice on the bias, and serve alongside fresh tomato salad for a light meal.”
The wine: 2010 Ameztoi “Rubentis” Txakolina ($24)
The story: Co-owner Sean Krainik quickly recommended this slightly spritzy rosé from the Spanish sub-zone of Getariako Txakolina as his top pick for an end-of-summer soirée. The rosé is made from two indigenous grapes, Hondarribi Zuri (a white varietal) and Hondarribi Beltza (a red varietal), which are fermented separately and then blended.
“It’s a refreshing blend of tart raspberry and citrus with a touch of sea-foam brininess,” says Krainik. “It also has a small bit of natural effervescence and a relatively low alcohol content of 10.5 percent, which makes it irresistible on a warm summer day — or night for that matter.”
The dish: “I would pair this delicate rosé with a ceviche or even a cold tomato soup,” says Krainik. “Light sheep’s milk cheeses (Roncal or P’tit Basque) would work as well.”
The wine: 2009 Matthias Dostert Rosay ($12.99)
The story: “This is my store’s version of white zinfandel, except it’s from Germany, not California — and it’s made from the Roter Erbling grape, not Zinfandel,” says Frankly Wines owner Christy Franks. “It is pink and just a little sweet — and absolutely charming.”
The dish: “It’s perfect with picnic favorites like cold meats and chicken salad,” says Franks. “But if your basket happens to include a spicy curry dish, this rosé can take the heat.”
The wine: 2010 Bermejos Rosado, Canary Islands ($25)
The story: Jill Bernheimer, owner of Domaine LA, picks a stand-out rosé made from a grape variety, Listán Negro, that hails from the Canary Islands. “The soil in which the vines are grown is volcanic, and while the red from this grape and winery has very prominent graphite and slate overtones, the minerality featured is more of a subtext,” she says. “Along with medium body, and the purest red berry fruit you can imagine, this rosé has an almost indescribable depth and character.”
The dish: “This would be fantastic with one of my favorite summer items: heirloom tomatoes,” says Bernheimer. “Just slice some fresh Cherokees, Brandywines, and Green Zebras, sprinkle some basil over them, and drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil and balsamic, and you’re good to go. Simple, yes, but a great match.”
The wine: 2010 Matello Wines Rosé of Pinot Noir ($15)
The story: Michael Alberty, aptly known as “Head Storyteller,” is a go-to guru for interesting wines — he truly believes that behind every great bottle of wine there’s an even better story. “I like my rosés to be crisp, lean, and tart and I also expect them to taste and smell like the grape they are made with. That’s a tall order these days, but my favorite West Coast rosé this summer fit the bill perfectly. Scents of dried rose petals, lemon zest, red cherries, and quince are followed by flavors ranging from white grapefruit and white tea to watermelon rind and red raspberries.”
The dish: “If I come home on a hot summer afternoon I will pop a slightly chilled bottle of the Matello, slice up a baguette and serve it up with some fresh goat cheese from nearby Beroldingen Farm (in Sherwood, Oregon). Simple, local, perfect!”
Rosé and rosemary.
Make summer last.