With the season of picnics and lunches on the lawn looming, Christine Austin picks the perfect pinks to keep things chilled.

With summer days ahead it is time to find the best rosé wines and get them in the fridge ready for when the sun shines. Pale, subtle, and definitely chilled, rosé is the wine for garden parties, picnics, weddings and lunches on the lawn.

In the last few years rosé has had a personality change. Many of these wines used to be deep pink, almost red, but now it is almost as if rosés as a group have been wearing straw hats to protect themselves from the sun. Delicate, almost hardly there, with just a light shading of pink, while still retaining their pure, characterful flavours of wild strawberries and summer flowers they can charm their way across any summer lunch table.

The other factor that has changed is price. Rosé used to be the cheap and cheerful addition to a picnic. Now it is the guest of honour, some arriving in their best designer bottles, looking elegant and expensive, with tastes to match.

If you are splashing out on a top-notch rosé, then you will need to lift your lunch beyond the usual quiche and salad. These are wines that demand whole roast salmon, grilled langoustines, crunchy, vibrant superfood salads and quality dressings.

If it is summer it must be time for rosé

Remember that rosé wine is best when it is fresh, so rattle the bottles on the shelves to make sure you get the latest vintage. 2016 is what you should be looking for, although southern hemisphere wines from the 2017 vintage are just starting to appear.

As always I have been looking for the best flavour for money, so here is my baker’s dozen of perfect pinks.

Bargain rosés

Bellemente Pinot Grigio Blush 2016, Moldova, Morrisons £4.50

I thought the days of sub-£5 wines were over but this is well worth a taste. Light, simple, easy-drinking, strawberry and hedgerow fruit flavours make this an all-day quaffer. This wine is made to vegan standards.

Les Richoises Rosé 2016, Languedoc-Roussillon, Morrisons £5

A bargain rosé with style well above its price point. Made from 100% Syrah, this has raspberry and redcurrant fruit with a touch of citrus to keep flavours fresh. A wine for a sitting-on-the-ground picnic.

The Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016, France, Aldi £5.99

It comes in the traditional curvy bottle of Provence and that instantly makes you think of long summer days and sunshine. The flavours are good too. Light strawberry fruit with a twist of orange zest.

Coteaux Varois en Provence 2016, France, Marks and Spencer £6.50 until 26 June

This is great value at its usual £8.50 price tag, but now it is a positive bargain. It comes in the traditional curvy bottle and it has delicate white floral notes backed by wild strawberry and lime fruit.

La Vieille Ferme 2016, Vallée du Rhône, France, Co-op £6.99

Made from Southern French grapes, Carignan and Grenache, this has the taste of fresh-picked redcurrants and just a hint of herbs. It is made by the Perrin family who have been making Brad and Angelina’s Ch. Miraval for the last few years.

This wine is also stocked by Waitrose and it might be worth watching the price in a week or so.

£7 to £10

Taste the Difference Viñedos Barrihuelo Rioja Rosado 2016, Spain, Sainsbury £7

Deeper in colour and flavour than Provence rosés this is packed with raspberry fruit, clean, zesty freshness and it goes perfectly with lamb kebabs. If you dash out and buy before the end of tomorrow you can take advantage of Sainsbury’s 25% off when you buy a mixed half-dozen wines.

Porcupine Ridge Rosé 2017, South Africa, Waitrose £7.99

The only 2017 wine in this list and the flavours are as fresh as summer flowers. The shipment is still on the water but will arrive in the next week or two so snap it up when you see it. With raspberry and redcurrant fruit and a definite dusting of herbs and spice, this 50:50 blend of Cinsault and Syrah has enough flavours to stand up to a barbecue without seeming heavy.

Rosé d’Anjou 2016, Loire, France, Marks and Spencer £9

A throw-back to another era, but this time with style. This is an off-dry wine, with raspberry fruit balanced by just a hint of sweetness. It goes well with anything lightly spiced, such as Thai-style spicy chicken and chilli-spiced duck.

Rioja Rosado Muga, Spain, Majestic £9.99 on a mix-six deal

Pale and delicious this has slightly more weight than many rosé wines, with creamy notes adding to the strawberry and summer-sunshine fruit. Perfect with the main course, but it can carry through to a strawberry dessert.

£10 to £15

Baron Gassier Sainte Victoire 2016, Côtes de Provence, France, Sainsbury £12

A serious style of rosé with savoury, herby notes blending in with the light, strawberry fruit and a note of fresh citrus peel zest making this a complex, lively and delicious wine for summer drinking. It also comes in magnum at around £20.

Vino Rosé 2016, Washington State, Morrisons £12

Made from 100% Washington State-grown Sangiovese this has juicy raspberry and redcurrant fruit with savoury, herby notes.

Splash out for summer

Whispering Angel 2016, Côtes de Provence, Waitrose £16.99

Ever since Whispering Angel was poured at a long, languid, summer wedding in France, I have loved this wine. It tastes of summer sunshine with slightly dusty, wild strawberry fruit and it has the power and freshness to last all through a sunny afternoon. It comes down to £15.99 a bottle if you buy by the case at Bon Coeur (01325 776446).

Ch. Miraval 2016, Côtes de Provence, France, Majestic £17.99 on a mix six deal

Will this wine stay at the top of the quality scale now the Brangelina dream is over? It probably it will because the Perrin family have been looking after the winemaking, but the price is now bouncing around, so shop for the best deal. Dash out to Sainsbury before the end of tomorrow to bag yours at just £12 when you buy 6 mixed bottles, or get online and order.

About The Author

Christine Austin

Christine is a wine writer, broadcaster and a wine judge for several international wine competitions. She has a technical background and spent five years as a buyer for a major supermarket before moving to wine writing.She writes for The Yorkshire Post Magazine and organises the York Festival of Food and Drink. She has won both the Lanson and the Roederer prizes for wine writing.

Let us know what you think

comments