Wine in a box. That is what once came to mind when I thought about rosés. I’m not even sure the White Zin widely available in the States is worthy of such a container. It should be sold in plastic bottles like Gatorade and served in Dixie cups. It is just gross. But don’t confuse mass produced California rosés with Italian rosati. In southern Italy in particular, they can be quite elegant, sought after products.
It was in Puglia (the heel of the boot) that I first learned to appreciate rosés. Alezio, Castel del Monte, Galatina, and Salice Salentino are just a few of the DOCs that have rosato versions, many of which are made from the famous negroamaro and primitivo grapes. The syrupy sweet junk from California couldn’t be more different than these (often dry) wines in which balance, pleasant (but not overbearing) fruitiness, and crisp acidity is the standard.
Some other southern Italian rosati to look for are Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Cerasuolo (Abruzzo), Ciró Rosato (Calabria), Etna Rosato (Sicily), Aglianico del Taburno Rosato (Campania), and IGT Salento Rosato (Puglia). Serve these wines as a summer aperitif or pair with fish stews, torte rustiche (Italy’s answer to quiche), or foods flavored with peperoncino. And hope that someday US wine importers will wake up, ignore market demand for saccharine rosés, and offer products that are actually worth drinking. In southern Italy, they truly have l’imbarazzo della scelta.