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How to Buy the Best Rosé Every Time

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Rosé used to be a St. Tropez-only thing, and then it made its way to the U.S., where it became a summer-only thing. But now, any day is a good day to enjoy the wine, and sales back this up. In 2015, table wine sales grew 2 percent in volume, while rosé grew 7 percent in volume, according to Nielsen data.

"Rosé shouldn't be limited to the summer; it's just a light version of red wine," says master sommelier Laura Maniec, owner of Corkbuzz restaurants. "Red wine gets its color from fermenting white juice with red-skinned grapes until you get a red color, and rosé is fermented the same way but for a shorter period of time."

And it goes with everything from fish or cured meats and cheese to Asian food or Thanksgiving dinner, says Jessica Norris, director of beverage and wine education at Del Frisco's Grille.

But like all wine, rosé runs the gamut from two-buck-chuck to hundred-plus-dollar bottles from Provence. Here are five sommelier tips to help you choose a rosé that'll please your pallet and your wallet.

1. Choose from a trusted region.
"Wine regions can be a bit tricky—even for the pros—as the world of wine is constantly growing and changing," Norris says. But you need to start somewhere, and her best advice is to begin with tried-and-true regions of Provence, California, Bordeaux, Northern Spain, and Oregon.

Still not sure? Think about what reds you like. "Almost every red wine-producing region produces rosé wine, so if you enjoy the red wine from a specific region, it is always a good idea to try the rosé," Maniec says. So if you love Spanish tempranillo, go ahead and try the rosé.

2. Always pick a recent vintage.
"Although there are some exceptions, you should drink rosé as fresh as possible or as young as possible," Maniec says. That means buy a 2016 vintage this year.

3. Know if it'll be sweet or dry.
The secret is the alcohol by volume, or ABV, on the label. "Anything higher than 11 percent will be dry," Norris explains. "If you like sweet wines, the lower the alcohol, the sweeter the rosé." Old-world regions (Italy, Spain, France) tend to be crisp and tart compared to new-world regions (U.S., South America, Australia), which are typically fruitier and sweeter, Maniec adds.

4. Check out the color.
"Darker rosé can have a slightly richer mouthfeel and can sometimes be fruitier in style than the pale, onion-skin colors," Maniec says. (Related: How to Buy an Awesome Bottle of Red Wine Every Time)

5. Choose your favorite grape.
"Any red wine grape can be made into a rosé wine," Maniec explains. And the main base of the rosé will be most prominent in the flavors. So pinot noir rosé usually has tart red fruit flavors like cherries and strawberries while cabernet-based rosé will have more black fruit aromas like blackberries and black plums, she says.

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