You’d never know it from the proliferation of photos that start to flood your Instagram feed right about this time of year, but in the U.S., rosé wasn’t always something with which the drinking public was #obsessed. At some point over the last decade or so, the automatic assumption that syrupy-sweet, pink-hued wines are more or less training wheels for your more sophisticated drinking future has been thoroughly upended. This shift has come about largely by natural and low-intervention winemakers returning to pre-mass-production methods as well as getting creative with a generation of drinkers that wants new, fun and exciting over serious, expensive and regaled. Rosé as we now know it appears in any number of iterations: dry and still; crisp, playful and slightly bubbly; floral, fruity, or even a lil’ meaty. You get the picture—drinking a glass of rosé no longer means you’re socking your gullet with liquified potpourri.
And as beloved as rosé now is—Yes Way Rosé and White Girl Rosé [eyeroll emoji] are just two examples of how its popularity among the Instagram generation has manifested itself into businesses—what’s even more exciting is that it signals a group of wine drinkers who are open to move beyond the standard sauv blanc, cab and pinot grigio most of us are taught to fall back on.
Hence, the rise of orange wines and pet nats—your new go-to summer party wines. But what, exactly, is an orange wine? Well, it’s not made from oranges, for one. Generally speaking, they’re wines made in a Georgian tradition the same way that reds are, with the juice staying in contact with the skins (orange wines are also often referred to as “skin-contact wines”). The end result is more or less a white wine with a little more tannin and verve, showing up in pretty orange hues in the glass. “Pet nat” is short for petillant naturel, which means “naturally sparkling” in French, and wines made via this method are bottled while they’re still fermenting, left to finish the process in the bottle with no additional yeast introduced to make it bubbly on the level of its swank older sibling, champagne. The end result is something fun and fizzy and meant to be drunk right away (which is where it gets its party-girl reputation).
In order to find out what’s good on the frontier of funky wine, we caught up with Steph Sloan, a bartender at Bar Bandini in Echo Park, which was featured in the Wall Street Journal as one of “7 Insider Wine Bars That Sommeliers Belly Up To” last month. (Feel lucky, Angelenos; you’ve got access to this plus Helen’s Wine out on Fairfax). Check out her reccos, because as she puts it: “These wines are having a moment right now.”
Hailing from the Campania region of Italy, this white blend sits on the skin for ten days, yielding a delicious, zippy, crisp yet fruity and herbal white. Highly guzzle-able.
Franco Terpin Quinto Quarto, $26.99
Not your grandmother’s pinot grigio. The 3 days of skin contact yields texture and earthiness. A lil’ funky and savory.
On Est Su l’Sable, $23
Chinon and Cab Frac combine to make some zippy, raspberry goodness. It is, as the cool wine kids say, supersoif–translation: “good if u thirsty af”
Aaaay, a California wine! With grapes grown in the Anderson Valley, this Berkeley winery makes a pet nat that is elegant and bright and a touch yeasty (in a good way!)
Hoxie Spritzer, $28 for 8 cans
While this is neither an orange wine nor a pet nat, itis summer in a can. It’s actually a wine spritzer (yeah, like the stuff your mom and her bunco friends used to drink) and it comes in a rosé and white wine variety. They’re highly portable and only 5% alcohol, which means they’re perfect for drinking at the beach (not that Steph officially recommends such illegal activities, she’d like to make it clear).