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Rosé a terrific, affordable spring choice

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About this time of year, a good friend of mine starts squawking about rosé and how it's that time of year and it's so cheap and it just has a bad rap and shouldn't we all just have some rosé. Historically, my response has been to give said friend a hard time about having lowbrow tendencies and isn't rosé just a fancy way of saying white zin and isn't the color alone enough to reject it and etc. But this friend is definitely in the know about such things. And about such things I am ever so wrong.

So I was excited to see Zipp's send out a notice recently about some new dry rosés they've been getting in and decided it was about time I got up to speed on the stuff. Jeff Kycek, Zipp's wine manager, is about as excited about rosé as my friend and a great resource on the topic.

Rosé gets its distinctive pink color (almost fuschia at times) from its brief exposure to the skins of the red grapes it is made with. Unlike traditional red wines, with which juices might be left with skins up to a week or two, with rosés the skin is typically taken away after just a day or two. It can be made from a number of different grapes. It's more how you make it than what you make it with, Kycek says.

One of the greatest things about rosé, Kycek says, is that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg to get a good one (a result of the whole brief aging process). "There are some that cost upwards of $30 and you just don't need to spend that," he says. Another great thing about rosé is that it is very versatile as far as what type of food it goes well with. Kycek readily mentions bouillabaisse. Mmm. "They're great with summer foods," he says, " ... salad and chicken and grilled stuff." They're also great lunch wines, he says. They're about 12 percent alcohol content, "so not super boozy," he says.

Sounds good to me! Sign me up! What should I get? Kycek pulled together a handful from Zipp's shelves, all under $16:

  • Chateau du Donjon -- from the Minervois region in the south of France. Made with grenache and syrah grapes. "It's a little spicier and has kind of a pepper note and a strawberry and dark cherry component, but completely dry and crisp." $13.99
  • Prestige des Lauzeraies Tavel -- from the southern Rhone in France. Like the du Donjon, made with grenache and syrah grapes. Cool fact: Tavel, the town this wine is from, makes only rosé. "When it's the only wine they make, they work hard on them," Kycek says. "This one explodes in the mouth, and is a little darker." $15.99.
  • Rose de Loire -- from the Loire Valley in France. Made with cabernet franc and gamay grapes (also used to make Beaujolais wine) . "This is a really pretty wine. It just sings in your mouth." $11.49
  • Robert Sinskey Vin Gris of Pinot Noir -- out of Carneros, California (in Napa). "It's a really pretty wine ... a little more subtle. The acidity is not as pronounced. It's a little softer, but dry also .. a really light rose petal pink." $15.99
  • Le Pavillon du Chateau Beauchene -- from the Cotes du Rhone region of France. Another grenache syrah blend. "This is excellent stuff, nice and peppery, with big strawberry in the nose and mouth." $10.99

Dear said friend: Let's have some rosé. It's on me!