Summer means it’s time for rosé! That’s not exactly true, we’re drinking rosé year-round, but whatever, warm weather gives us an excuse to drink the stuff outdoors.
We blind taste tasted 11 out of 11 available rosé, or rosé-ish wines from the Trader Joe’s on 14th St. NW in Washington, D.C. This is not an all-encompassing attempt at a fair and accurate review of the best rosé. People that want the best rosé aren’t picking up a dozen bottles of wine for under $100 at their local Trader Joe’s. This is the taste test meant for the people who buy their wine based on how the label looks. The is the rosé taste test for the common people.
Our panel consists of food writers, a former bartender, a man that made batch cocktails for his wedding and a 22-year-old. In other words, the kind of person that’s going to be at your backyard BBQ this summer.
Before we began pouring wine down their throats, we asked our panel to let us know what they prefer to drink at home, in public and in summer. If you like Negroni, you may share Chris’ palate. If you like sweet, you may have something in common with Kelly.
Preferred home drink: Gin and Tonic
Preferred drink out: Roman Highball at Copycat
Preferred summer drink: Piña Colada
Preferred home drink: Boulevardier
Preferred drink out: Negroni
Preferred summer drink: Gin and Tonic
Preferred home drink: Dogfish Head 60 Min. IPA
Preferred drink out: Jameson on the rocks at Solly’s
Preferred summer drink: Pearl Cup at Pearl Dive, extra ginger, light on sweet
Preferred home drink: Red wine blend
Preferred drink out: Gin and Tonic/Margarita
Preferred summer drink: Rum Runner
Each taster was told to rate each wine from 1 to 5, 1 being low, 5 being high.
The drinkers were offered water, crackers and chocolate nibs throughout the tasting. No one wanted water.
Enough preface. Here’s what the 11 rosé and kinda rosé wines currently available at Trader Joe’s taste like…
A. Amusant Pink Moscato
Kaylee: Sugary as fuck. Strawberries. Makes me feel like Flocka a little. Kind of terrible. 1/5
Chris: Super sweet, unpleasant aftertaste. 1/5
José: Ew. Cough syrup and sprite. 2/5
Kelly: Suuuper sweet. I feel like freshman year of college all over again before I knew what good wine tasted like. 3/5
B. Blazing de Bourgogne
Kelly: Much more dry. Not sweet at all which makes me kinda sad but it’s okay. 2/5
Chris: Bland, unmemorable. 3/5
José: This is way better. Clean, dry. I could use more bubbles though. 4/5
Kaylee: Drier. I don’t want to pour this out on the ground. Second drink is much worse, but it might be because this cracker is terrible. 5/5
C. Charles Shaw White Zinfandel
Chris: Jolly Rancher, bitter aftertaste. 2/5
Kaylee: Pink as hell. Smells sweet. Isn’t actually that sweet. Not terrible. 3/5
José: Pretty good, actually. Could be a base for a cocktail, with a whiskey or mezcal. 3/5
Kelly: Tangy and fruity, with a little sweet, I’d probably buy this, does that make me basic? 5/5
D. Cline Mourvedre Rosé
José: My tongue is numb. Tastes like chardonnay and wasted youth, with a drop of grenadine. Good for teens, 40 year olds. 2/5
Kelly: It’s kind of boring. You’d think that because it’s pink that it’d be fun, but nope. 2/5
Kaylee: This looks like something the Golden Girls would drink. Tastes a little like perfume, but I don’t mind. 4/5
Chris: Balanced, light fruity peach. Just sharp and acidic enough. 5/5
E. Espiral Vinho Rosé
José: Bubbles are back, yo! Doesn’t have much discernible taste beyond sugar – maybe hints of bubble gum? Not loving it. 1/5
Kelly: This one is kind of fun. More bold I guess, like someone who is fun for the first date but by the second you’re over it. 3/5
Chris: Effervescent, slightly sour. 3/5
Kaylee: This is the kind of pink people want when they ask for pink wine. Not actually that bad. 3/5
F. Green Fin Grenache Rosé Organic
Kelly: This one is orange. This rosé is a lie, and I haven’t even tried it. OK, it’s not terrible, just sorta blah. 2/5
Kaylee: Very orange. A little sweet. A little tasteless. Inoffensive. 3/5
José: Orange wine? Has a strong mineral taste. Like sucking on a rock, or a penny. I’m a little worried for my kidneys. 3/5
Chris: Orange is the new rosé. 3/5
G. Grifone Rosé Italia
Chris: Forgot it when I stopped drinking. 2/5
Kaylee: Smell on the tongue with a dry finish. Not bad at all. 3/5
José: Everything tastes the same to me. This is passable, I guess. Less orange than the previous one, but I feel lied to. I was promised rosé, Brandon. Fuck is this? 3/5
Kelly: I like this! Very fun! It’s a peachy color so I feel like it’s a fraud rosé but it can stay. 4/5
H. Landonnet Rosé Bordeaux
Kaylee: Smells too sweet and maybe like flavored coffee creamer. My nose is broken? There are particles in my wine. This is bad. 1/5
Chris: Too sweet, bitter. 1/5
José: Probably the least offensive of the last five. Not many redeeming qualities. I regret agreeing to do this. 3.5/5
Kelly: This one’s the middle child. It’s cute but not special enough the be the oldest or youngest. 3/5
I. La promenade Provence Rosé
Kaylee: Light and pretty looking. Sweet, but not too sweet. Perfumery. I hate this more and more the longer I drink it. Pouring one out for my plant friends. 1/5
Kelly: Def in the top 3 for my favorite of the wines. It’s cute, not sure why but I’m sticking with. Miiight be a little drunk. 4/5
Chris: Pleasant typical rosé. 4/5
José: Oh! This is nice! Clean, bright, crisp flavor and absolutely drinkable. Would have this with fish, maybe with grilled vegetables. 4.5/5
J. Marques de Caceres Rioja Rose
Chris: What is life? Rosé shouldn’t be red. 1/5
José: Back to garbage. I’m glad we are nearing the end. 1/5
Kaylee: Dry! The color is off putting and I don’t know why. I feel like I’m becoming a different person. I want crackers. 2/5
Kelly: This one is my favorite color so far, but I’m not crazy about the taste. They kind of taste the same at this point. 3/5
K. Vinas Chilenas Rosario Rosé
Chris: Wine for babies. Smells pretty bad. 1/5
José: Tastes like jungle juice. I could make sangria with it, for my enemies. 2.5/5
Kaylee: I’m worried about the plant. So much food coloring. Is this hi-li? Not horrific. I’m going to have a headache in 20 minutes. 3/5
Kelly: Good one to finish on, kinda sweet but a little dry. 4/5
Highest Rated: B, I
The Blazing de Bourgogne garned the highest rating. It also is the most expensive. And it’s also a sparkling rosé so should it count?
Coming in second is the La promenade Provence Rosé. It’s our only wine to receive 4 or better from 3 judges. But it also received the lowest possible rating. At $9.99, it’s the second most expensive rosé offered by TJ’s. It looks like price does matter.
Lowest Rated: A, J
The Amusant Pink Moscato received the worst rating but that’s not really fair since it’s not a rosé and moscatos are supposed to be sweet. But it fits the color profile so we included it. Sorry?
The Marques de Caceres Rioja Rose is our lowest ranking actual rosé and it’s also a surprising result. This is one of the few wines we sampled that’s usually available at local grocery stores, which means it’s a wine we drink on the regular. Were we drinking it because it tasted good or because it was available? Available.
Mix it all together. What started as a joke became a revelation. After tasting the second wine, Kaylee asked if we were going to make a suicide. Once that question was posed and a suicide was explained to the one person that didn’t know what a suicide was (we’re not going to explain it because you know what a suicide is and if you don’t use some context clues or ask a grade schooler using the soda machine at 7/11), our noble experiment truly began.
9 1 oz pours of non sparkly wine and a hell of a lot of sparkly wine from 2 bottles resulted in the most pleasant wine of the evening. Really. This is not a joke.
11 rosé and rosé adjacent wines mixed together tastes like wine had a baby with grape juice. It didn’t taste like alcohol. And it wasn’t too sweet or too dry or too anything. By uniting as one, the 11 cheap wines because a strong contender for the summer drink of 2016. Really. This is still not a joke.
It makes sense. All of the horrible aspects of the wines were muted. Blended together, it made all sense of cheapness fade away.
We should point out that half the people that tried this concoction did not participate in the blind taste test. In other words, they were sober. Whether sober, buzzed or drunk, for some reason only god knows, 11 cheap wines with similar color mixed are better together than apart.
Also, 2 (.99) buck Chuck is still a good deal. It was no one’s most hated and one person’s favorite.
Photos By Franz Mahr