I began writing this post realizing I didn't have any photographs of rosé. It's summer and we drink it and that's all. No time to get a photo. You'll see below I've corrected the situation.
Alder Yarrow has a nice rant on his blog, Vinography, titled Why American Rosé Sucks. It's a bit funny in the way good rants are but also helpful in knowing what to look for and what to avoid. Of course, living in the south of France, I don't have that problem. At this time of year the supermarkets, restaurants and wine shops are flooded with rosé and in the hot summer evenings it's pretty much all we drink.
You might ask, Why? What so great about it? Are you harboring memories of the 80's craze of white zinfandel and wine coolers? Thinking that only a nice crisp white would go nicely with your summer grill? I've lived here long enough to know that starting in June, rosé is the wine of choice. But I've run into other expats that are slightly flummoxed - is it okay to drink rosé?
Verily I say: Yes!
As Yarrow noted, the grapes grown for rosé are meant to be rosé. They are not "mixed" wines with red and white - in fact, the only case of blended rosés are in champagnes and sparkling wines. They are made from red grapes in two ways: The harvested grapes are crushed and and skins left with the juice for a couple of days. Afterward it is pressed and the skins discarded, leaving minimal color trace. The other method is bleed (transferred literally from saignée) a red wine early in the wine-making process - taking out some of the juice and allowing the red wine to become darker, more full-bodied. The "bled" juice is then fermented into rosé. The most common grapes used are grenache, syrah, cinsault, mourvedre, tibouren.
The south of France is the center of production of more than 50% of France's rosé wines (128 million bottles!) across several appellations, the largest one being Côtes de Provence and including Bandol, Coteaux Varois, Coteaux d'Aix en Provence, and Bellet just north of Nice, among others.
Because of the variation of terrain, grapes and methods used to obtain rosé wine the color can range widely from very pale and orangey to a deep pink. Part of the fun about rosé is trying different kinds and finding what you like best.
What about drinking it? Dry and fruity, It is served cold, like a white wine, and goes well with mediterrannean cuisines and grilled dinners. As I said, during the summer, we drink it almost every night and it's so pleasant to sit outside, at the end of the day during the long summer evenings finishing dinner or picnicking with friends over a glass of rosé.