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Rosé all the way

Rose wineA friend recently returned from a Florida vacation where he fell in with several French Canadians who, over the week, taught him “to go rosé.”

Most days consisted of vigorous exercise early on the beach, dry rosé wine at lunch, an extended afternoon siesta/nap and rosé with a full, but generally light, meatless dinner and conviviality late into the night.

“I’m on vacation,” mused this daily wine drinker, “but I didn’t drink a big red all week!”

His post-vacation takeaways were more physical activity and lower-cholesterol foods matched to more casual evenings and lower-alcohol pink wines.

Indeed, this aesthetic is standard in many locales where wine is part of most meals. In Mediterranean France, Portugal and Spain, where seafood, olive oil and vegetarian dishes make sense in the scorching-hot summers, rosé is offered in cafés the way we might, for instance, drink iced tea. It’s refreshing, typically less intoxicating than red wine and a bright pink glass — as I tell visitors in my tasting room — makes any table prettier.

I like coppery rosés with Thanksgiving turkey and at the winter table, too, but, clearly, languorous Daylight Saving Time evenings are rosé naturals. They taste especially good outside, whereas wines with more complex flavors almost need constraints — walls and ceilings — for ideal enjoyment.

A cool glass before dinner on the porch as the shadows gather is a wonderful start to the evening; a contemplative glass after dinner at dusk sets up the next day. So, with the bottle open, just stick with it for dinner, right?

This mindset also puts wine in its proper place: it’s foremost a utilitarian beverage to make food taste better. And for daily wine drinkers, the cost savings can be considerable, for pink wines are generally excellent values (perhaps another reason U.S. consumption has soared in recent years).

So, “going rosé” has up one up and moving about but also relaxing more, drinking fewer high-alcohol wines and eating more vegetables, all while clogging your arteries less. Who knew this was so easy?

Biz Buzz Wine Buys: 2012 Marques de Caceres Rosado (Rioja, Spain). Based mostly (and unusually) on Tempranillo, the great Spanish red grape, this paragon of refreshment and sculpted flavor offers up raspberries, strawberries, a touch of juicy watermelon and literally a “safety” vermillion color. It also ages well, so don’t be afraid to snag discounted earlier vintages from this huge producer if you come upon them. Stunning value at $9.

2012 Perrin Family Reserve Rosé (Cotes du Rhone, France). The least-seen hue in the Perrin Family’s reliable “step up” from their ubiquitous (and solid) La Vieille Ferme brand, the rosé uses a high percentage of the southern French specialty Cinsaut grape for this especially succulent, wickedly versatile sipper. Perhaps it’s the soft pinkish-orange color that tricks the mind to look for orange blossoms and orange sherbet in the aroma. But both are there, in a lovely and captivating drink. $11.