Everything's coming up rosé

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Not so long ago your typical red-blooded wine drinker - or anyone at all serious about their wine - would as soon admit to a penchant for rosé as come out as a Barbara Cartland fan.

Not so long ago your typical red-blooded wine drinker - or anyone at all serious about their wine - would as soon admit to a penchant for rosé as come out as a Barbara Cartland fan. Then rosé became a seasonal thing. Fine as long as it was confined to picnics and sipping on languid A-Year-in-Provence-type holidays, after which it was back to normal: red, white and sparkling. Since the torrid summer of 2003 though, rosé isn't naff any more and it's perfectly acceptable for the alpha male to be seen in the pink. Wine producers around the world started falling over themselves to make pink wine, so while France remains the world's biggest supplier of rosé, as much again now comes from the New World.

Retailers have expanded their ranges to meet demand, with Tesco for instance, thanks to a 54 per cent growth in sales between 2003 and 2004, doubling the number of different rosés on its shelves from 15 to 30. Rosé today transcends its girly image because drinkers are discovering that range and quality have improved dramatically. We've moved on from cloyingly sweet stuff to crisper, dry styles to go with all manner of spring and summer meals.

There are currently some serious bargain rosés to be had for those of you who just want something undemandingly pink, chilled and refreshing. Top bargain spots include the refreshing Asda Rosé d'Anjou (£2.81), the tangy summer berry delights of the 2004 Big Frank's Rosé, Vin de Pays d'Oc (£3.99, Sainsbury's), and the stunning strawberry cup ripeness and juicy berry fruit quality of the 2004 Laurent Miquel Côte Sauvage Dry Rosé, Coteaux du Languedoc (£3.99, Somerfield), the perfect company for a Greek salad on a summer's day. Not forgetting, from a star of this year's Top 100 Vins de Pays competition, the mouthwatering 2004 Domaine de Pellehaut Vin de Pays des Côtes de Gascogne (£4.49-£4.99, Booths, Waitrose).

Daringly casting a clout before May is out, Majestic is kicking off the summer with rosé tastings and a bonus of 15 per cent off all rosés when you buy two or more bottles. You could put together your own mixed case, by combining the capsicum-like, refreshingly fruity 2004 Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Maipo Valley, Chile (£5.85), the deep pink, refreshingly strawberryish 2004 Château Guiot Rosé, Costières de Nîmes (£5.20), the curranty, elegantly dry 2004 Rosé de Flaugergues, Coteaux du Languedoc (£6.45), a traditional, intensely full-flavoured, berry-fruity Tavel in the 2004 Château d'Aqueria (£7.99), completing your selection with a strawberryish, halfway-to-pinot-noir rosé with the 2004 Yering Station Pinot Noir Rosé, Yarra Valley (£8.49).

A number of independent wine merchants are also joining the rosé party. Among the best on offer, the 2004 Domaine Massamier La Mignarde, Cuvée des Oliviers, Vin de Pays des Coteaux de Peyriac (£4.95 or £4.45 bottle/case, Berry Bros, 0870 9004300/ www.bbr.co.uk), is a gorgeous little pink stunner. Lea & Sandeman has an adventurous case offer of a dozen different rosés for £99.50 including delivery (020-7244 0522/ www.londonfinewine.co.uk), or you can buy any separately by the bottle. I am especially partial to their 2004 Le Roc Rosé, Côtes du Frontonnais (£5.95), a full-flavoured, redcurranty rosé, and the vinously food-friendly, Tavel-like powerful 2004 Domaine de la Mordorée, la Dame Rousse, Côtes du Rhône Rosé (£7.95). Now all we need is a decent summer.