We’ve been taste-testing our way through pantry staples. We found our favorite canned chickpeas and natural peanut butter and mayonnaise. Now that it’s summer, there’s another regular in our kitchens...
Last summer, we told you about a variety that was highly ranked—like, one of the best in the world—in spite of its $8 price tag. Which got us thinking: Why would we ever buy rosé for more than $10? How many of these humble heroes are out there?
We had to find out. So we scoured the city for contenders and sampled 10 under-$10 wines. All were tasted blindly. Here they are from least to most favorite.
This dryish French fella didn’t have a great day at the office. Several criticized its lack of taste: “This is pink water,” one accused. (It is, indeed, rosé.) “Tasteless,” said another.” Meanwhile, several taste testers picked up on an odd pattern: “Like gasoline or motor oil,” said another. “Smells like a car tire,” said another still. Hm! For what it’s worth, one person was all about this: “I like. I love. My favorite.”
Our tasters were really on the same page with this Barbie-pink, bubbly variety, made in Emilia-Romagna, Italy. Two likened it to a “Jolly Rancher.” Several noted its berriness. And several criticized its sweetness. The smell was less unanimous. One put it simply: “Fruity as hell.” Another got more specific: “Smells like tequila.”
“Color’s pretty. Taste, not so much” sums up our feelings about this Italian rosé. Almost every taste tester oohed and aahed about its hue: “Pretty color,” “Darker ruby,” “Ruby color!” “Very pretty color,” “Love the red hue!” “Bright color, like a jewel,” to name a few. But perhaps looks are not everything. Its flavor was described as: “A bit metallic,” “Dragonfruit Vitamin Water,” and “almost like it was cut with water.” One person wrote “FLIRTY” in all capitals.
For some of our testers, this California-bred wine felt a little “watery,” or like “pink water with the tiniest squeeze of lemon,” said another. Others picked up on that citrusy flavor, describing a “nice sourness.” Overall, though, people felt a little blah: “Boring” and “Maybe this doesn’t have flavor.” One person was more preoccupied with the aroma: “Smells like the Glossier showroom.” Is that, uh, a good thing?
Made in a similar way to champagne, this peppy, Cosmopolitan-colored variety comes from Penedès, Spain. Several thought it was a touch sweet. One compared its flavor to “strawberry or raspberry.” Another, to “plum skin.” And another, to “caramel.” Several also focused on its bubbliness. “Bubbles!” said one. “Bubbles!!” said another. One taste tester put this more eloquently: “Super effervescent. Almost a distraction.” Similarly, “Not a fan of the fizziness.” Still, there were some fans. One described the smell as an illustration of a heart-eyes emoji. And one noted that it would be great paired with “fries and pizza and anything greasy.”
A blend of Monastrell and Grenache, Olivares tied with Cossetania, so they share the, er, 5th place podium. Congrats, guys. Many agreed that this was decidedly not sweet: “Dry. Too dry? Something salty and briny,” wrote one. Others said: “sour,” “tart,” “puckery,” and “very acidic.” At the same time, two people noted its “buttery flavor.” This inspired several post-work aspirations: “Makes me want to go on a picnic,” wrote one taste tester. Two curiously wanted noodles: “Give me some slurpy spaghetti” and “Give me some buttery pasta.” Another two were taken with its smell: “A lot of nose,” said one. “Is this what a nose is?” asked another.
This pale rosé, created in France during "the driest year in 30 years," was all over the place. But let’s start with the good news. Several admired its aroma: “Nice nose” and “Good smell.” Others could see it fitting into their lives: “This would be a good companion to a Bachelorette episode” and “This tastes like ‘good wine.’ I ‘like’ it.” Meanwhile, several found its taste bland. There were two comparisons to water (“pink water” and “tart water”) and one comparison to Nyquil: “Seriously, is this medicine?”
Peachy and almost orange in hue, this Italian wine also had some big fans and big enemies. Its followers noted that they could drink “a lot” of this. Its flavor ranged from “mild in a lovely way” to “floral, grassy, fruity.” Its smell was described as “stone-fruity.” That said, some picked up a mineraliness they didn’t appreciate: “Earthy in a way I don’t want.” Then, there were a few taste testers who were downright mad: “This is gross,” wrote one.” “NO,” wrote another, then underlined the all-capped word.
This vinho verde variety comes by way of Portugal. Its “fizzy, tart, sweet” flavor earned many admirerers. Several liked its “light” flavor. This made it “easy to drink,” ideally “in the park.” A couple described it as “crisp” and “refreshing.” One simply drew a smiley face. Another remarked that it “would go well with clam pizza,” though no one else picked up on this.
Winner, winner! Hailing from the south of France, where it's made on a small family estate, this rosé received lots of praise. Many complimented its “mild” and “pleasant flavor.” A couple called it “floral.” Several, “tart” (“which I liked!” one added). Others noted its balanced flavors: “Nicely between acidic and sweet” and “not too sweet or bad.” A couple taste testers saw themselves in the rosé: “Mildly floral, light, low acid. For a ‘basic’ girl like myself” and “Maybe not too complex. But maybe that matches my personality.” I’d like to think we can all see ourselves in Valjulius, because we’re all winners.
What’s your go-to cost-effective rosé? Tell us about it in the comments!