Ah, rosé. The preferred warm-weather libation of everyone from the most Basic™ girl you know to big-time rappers alike. But there are some unanswered questions about this mysterious pink nectar -- especially in Atlanta. To wit: why is everyone going crazy for it, why is it so trendy, and, most importantly, where can one snag a bottle of the best?
You likely recognize rosé as the pink-hued wine your sorority-rushing cousin/sister/Facebook friend is sipping on Instagram with the hashtag #roseallday. It’s a drink that has come to be equated with summer and luxury -- much like a private, multi-floor yacht with a jacuzzi and an old, leathery, tanned man in a Speedo wearing a gold chain. With its feminine hue, sweet taste, and smooth drinkability, rosé quickly gained a rep as a “girly” drink. But times have changed. Even the archetypal cliche of beer-guzzling, BBQ-eating, whiskey-swigging men can -- and do -- appreciate this refreshing wine.
“I see all kinds of people drinking rosé,” says Steven Grubbs, knowledgeable wine director of Empire State South and Five & Ten. “I don't think it follows lines of gender or ‘basic-ness.’ Pretty much all the really smart sommelier types I know (male and female) drink a lot of rosé, too.”
So, what exactly is it? “A rosé is a wine that uses limited contact with red grape skins to slightly tint the juice,” Grubbs explains. “Nearly all wine grapes, whether red or white, have fairly clear juice, so if you want to make a red, you'll let the skins soak for a while, darkening the juice. If you want to make a rosé, the contact will be more brief -- often a few hours, but sometimes as quick as simply being mingled in the crusher.”
Though people across the globe have been drinking different forms of rosé for centuries, the trend picked up in the United States in just the past few decades -- rising in popularity in the ’80s, with record numbers of sales (and trouble keeping the varietal on shelves) being reported last year. Recently, Forbes even claimed it was conquering the world.
“Rosé is sort of the ultimate immediate-gratification wine,” Grubbs adds. “Not many people want (or are able) to cellar $300 bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy for 20 years before it's really ready, and I think more and more folks are drinking wine for refreshment rather than for richness and opulence. So a super-fresh, delicious-upon-opening bottle of rosé is kind of an easy sell, especially when they are almost always relatively affordable.”
I think more and more folks are drinking wine for refreshment rather than for richness and opulence.
For Atlanta, 2015 marked the year that rosé intrepidly began to reveal itself at wine shops and on restaurant menus around the city. That same year, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution declared the wine had finally risen through the ranks to be deemed “cool,” after enduring years of a reputation for being too girly or sweet.
And as of this summer, it’s damn near impossible to hit up a local liquor store without seeing stacks of these blush bottles. Rosé’s white-hot popularity in Atlanta mirrors a national infatuation. In terms of countries that consume the most gallons, America is No. 2, and has been for a few years. As a city with bona fide international sensibilities (thanks, gargantuan international airport!), it makes sense that we’d fall in line with the zeitgeist.
For those in pursuit of a quality bottle of the pink, Grubbs suggests Perrine's Wine Shop on the Westside for an impeccable selection and the occasional tasting event, along with restaurants that boast, in his words, “a fairly nerdy wine program,” like Staplehouse or Bread & Butterfly. Over at Empire State South, he’s been pouring three different rosés by the glass throughout the warmer months, and he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “There are just so many fun ones to explore these days,” Grubbs says, “and people aren't afraid to get after them.”
So now, as you're likely about to Google "where to find the best rosé in Atlanta," stop! Because we're about to tell you.
Best place for outdoor rosé: Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall
Old Fourth Ward
Canned rosé is stocked at Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall on the BeltLine, and is best enjoyed in its rustic indoors environs, on the patio, or out on the expansive outdoor space.
Best selection of rosé: 3 Parks Wine Shop
The brilliant minds behind 3 Parks Wine Shop offer growler options that include rosé, plus a seasonal rosé-specific wine club during May, June, July, and August where, for $80 a month, you’ll receive six assorted bottles of wine hailing from regions all around the world.
Best spot for remixed rosé: Minero
Old Fourth Ward
Over at Ponce City Market, Minero has a signature sangria that’s a mixture of rosé, citrus, and cava -- a perfect complement to its charcoaled chicken tacos.
Best place to get rosé by the bottle: Barcelona Wine Bar
Head to this Spanish-inspired tapas spot to split a bottle (and half-off bottles on Monday). It's also served by the glass.
Best place to get rosé on tap: Venkman's
Old Fourth Ward
Venue-restaurant hybrid Venkman’s has rosé on tap, and it pairs quite well with the patio space and barbecue mussels, should you be into that.
Best spot for frosé: The Luminary
Frozen rosé (aka frosé) can be found at Krog Street Market’s French brasserie The Luminary (also likely at a summer dinner party thrown by your incredibly savvy and sophisticated friend).
Best place to get rosé in gummy form: Sugarfina
This Lenox Square candy shop found such success with its signature “Rosé All Day” gummy bears that it not only sold out within two hours of launching, but there’s a waiting list that’s already crept into the thousands. Thousands, people. This shit is getting real.
Now -- if you wouldn't mind -- please pour me another glass, it’s hot as hell out here.
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1. 3 Parks Wine Shop880 Glenwood Ave SE, Atlanta
2. Minero675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE, Atlanta
3. Barcelona Wine Bar240 N Highland Ave NE, Atlanta
4. Venkman's740 Ralph McGill Blvd NE, Atlanta
5. The Luminary99 Krog St NE Suite Y, Atlanta
6. Sugarfina3393 Peachtree Road, Macy's Level 3, Atlanta
7. Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall684 John Wesley Dobbs Ave NE, Atlanta
The popular tasting events at this Glenwood Park spot make for cramped quarters, so people who sign up and show up early reap the most benefit. 3 Parks Wine shop isn't just where East Atlanta resident stop by to get their pick of a rapidly changing selection of global and domestic wines, it's where they flock to a few times a month to have those wines paired with hand-selected breads and cheeses and simple Italian meals prepared by Atlanta chefs.
This chic, exposed-brick cantina offers Southern-influenced Mexican food from James Beard Award winner Chef Sean Brock. All of the corn for the restaurant's tortillas is ground in-house, making Brock’s tacos (the fried catfish variety really shows off the Southern flare) and burritos that much more authentic. You'll find Mexican favorites including enchiladas, chilaquiles, and charcoal-grilled meats, plus usual starters like queso and guacamole. Craft cocktails, including margaritas and sangria, and a formidable list of tequila and mezcal round out the experience.
An Inman Park wine bar complete with unvarnished paneling, a brick fireplace, and a shaded wraparound patio, Barcelona delivers Spanish flair to Atlanta with more than 200 wines straight from Spain and, of course, tapas. In small portions, cozy couples at lantern-lit tables and big groups in polished booths split small plates of spicy roasted vegetables, rice, and meats like chorizo and thick cuts of grilled lamb.
Creative comfort food and live music unite under one roof at Venkman's, the brainchild of Chef Nick Melvin and musicians Nick Niespodziani and Peter Olson (of the comedic cover band Yacht Rock Revue). Housed inside a former soda bottling plant in the Old Fourth Ward, Venkman's serves Southern-leaning salads, hot sandwiches, and sides, plus craft beer and cocktails.
At this polished, subway tile-bedecked brasserie near Inman Park, French technique and traditional Southern ingredients create a cuisine of its own that's both sleek and indulgent. The Luminary features dishes like duck breast with crispy fried okra, short ribs with grits, and saffron-laced corn risotto on its dinner menu, and spicy chicken sandwiches and kale omelets at brunch. The drink menu is geared towards wine aficionados with an extensive selection of bottles from France, Spain, and California.
This bright-white Lenox Square candy boutique understands that kids aren't the only ones with a major sweet tooth. Designed with grown-ups in mind, it features upwards of 150 different kinds of gourmet sweets from global artisan candy makers. The undeniable stars here are the signature “Rosé All Day” gummy bears -- they not only sold out within two hours of launching, but there’s now also a wait list. Seriously. In the meantime, be sure to pick up some "Champagne Bears" to get your fix.
Named after Lady Bird Johnson --a First Lady known for her fondness for the outdoors -- Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall is a modern, outdoor-themed bar and restaurant in the Old Fourth Ward. Enjoy brunch, lunch, or dinner in one of five aptly-named “mess halls,” including the outdoor "Grove" space sporting Adirondack chairs and ping pong tables to match the restaurant’s campfire motif. Ladybird’s menu has decidedly Southern bent, with dishes ranging from "trail snacks" like Navajo fry bread and pimento cheese fritters, to the shared camaraderie of large format "basecamp" dining with dishes like the Butcher’s Board (smoked ribs, grilled steak, beef cracklin, and sides). Pair your large-format feast with wine... by the jug. An outpost for sophisticated summer camp dining (upscale s’more included) in a cavernous, laid back atmosphere, Ladybird is a frontrunner on the BeltLine.