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Originally published Saturday, July 3, 2010 at 7:01 PM

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Wine Adviser

Dry rosé offers bright, fruity flavor for July 4 celebrations

Rosés, especially dry ones from Washington and Oregon, are the perfect party drink for the Fourth of July. Bright and fruity, they show versatility with summer-barbecue foods.

Special to the Seattle Times

Pick of the week

Waterbrook 2009 Sangiovese Rosé; $13

Spicy and bone dry, this pretty, sangiovese-based rosé delivers persistent flavors of cherry candy, lemon oil and nougat. There's a nice citrus snap to the finish. (Odom distributes)

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ON THIS patriotic holiday, in a time of heightened political interest and debate, what could be more appropriate than a glass of wine with your tube steaks and burgers? After all, wine is often a cheery purple in color, the perfect amalgam of red and blue.

Red wine will be great with your grilled foods, or pop a chilled white wine with your salads and apps. But if the weather is really warm and you want something totally gulpable, I'd go with rosé.

Off-dry pink wines are excellent entree wines for those who are accustomed to drinking sweet, nonalcoholic beverages. A further step, should you want to try rosés that are more versatile with food, is to seek out fresh, local, dry rosés from Washington and Oregon vintners.

These wines can be made from almost any red grape. I've had good examples of many, and blended rosés also, done in a style imitative of southern-French versions. Determining whether a particular rosé wine is dry is a little challenging. If the residual sugar is listed on the label, look for wines that are less than 1 percent. Remember that even bone-dry rosé can give an impression of sweetness because the fruit is so young and vibrant.

You can also get a general idea of sweetness by looking for the alcohol content (in tiny print, usually around the label edge). Anything less than 12.5 percent is likely to have some sweetness to it. But I've had rosé wines that tasted tart and dry at 12.3 percent and others that were quite sugary sweet at 13.5 percent, so there are no sure guidelines. Ask your retailer for advice.

Washington and Oregon wineries release dozens of these bright, fruity rosés in the late spring. And, of course, you'll find many additional examples from around the world. But it's fun to explore the local wines. Most are made in limited quantities and sell out quickly. So living in the Pacific Northwest you have access to wines that the rest of the world can only read about.

I'll list some good ones I've tried this year or in previous vintages. But it's never certain what will be available by the time this column runs. So if a particular wine is out of stock, ask your retailer to recommend something from the same grape. I especially like rosés made from grenache (or Rhône blends), pinot noir and sangiovese. They capture lovely floral highlights and are less tannic. Don't worry about color; rosés come in a rainbow of colors. But beware anything that has turned tawny. That usually means it's over the hill. Recommended:

Lullaby 2008 Rosé ($16/500 ml). A blend of grenache and viognier, very rich and textural, made by French-trained winemaker Virginie Bourgue. Columbia Valley.

Abacela 2009 Grenache Rosé ($14). Cherry red, estate-grown, with a tangy mix of cranberry and cherry fruit. Umpqua Valley.

SuLei Cellars 2009 Dry Rosé ($16). A pale salmon color, this simple, fresh-tasting rosé is mostly merlot, with a little cabernet franc. Light watermelon and strawberry flavors. Columbia Valley.

Trio Vintners 2009 Très Rosé ($15). A 50/50 blend of grenache and mourvèdre loaded with ripe strawberry and cherry candy-fruit flavors. Yakima Valley.

Some others to look for (I have not tasted current vintages, but the track record is there):

Barnard Griffin 2009 Rosé ($12). Columbia Valley sangiovese.

Charles & Charles 2009 Rosé ($12). Columbia Valley syrah.

Chinook 2009 Rosé ($15). Yakima Valley cabernet franc.

Sleight of Hand 2009 Magicians Assistant Rosé ($17). Columbia Valley cab franc.

Syncline 2009 Rosé ($16). Columbia Valley Rhône blend.

Paul Gregutt is the author of "Washington Wines & Wineries." Find him at www.paulgregutt.com.

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About Wine Adviser

My column is all about sharing the joy of exploring all the world of wine. I want to guide people to make inspired choices, and encourage them to try as many different styles of wine as they can. I will always seek out the best wines at the best prices. Wine Adviser runs on Sunday in Pacific Northwest Magazine.
paulgwine@me.com

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