A sommelier revealed that the rosé at the top of the list isn’t always the best option.

By Lauren Phillips
Updated August 24, 2018

Rosé may be the wine of the summer (here at Real Simple, we’re partial to frosé), but that doesn’t mean all pink wines are created equal—or that the rosés you see at the top of wine lists at restaurants or on prominent display at your neighborhood wine store are the best-tasting.

Sommelier Victoria James (who has previously shared her some of her top rosé picks with Real Simple) gave Bon Appétit an inside look at how some wineries and wine distributors get their low- or mid-quality pink wines on the lists at top restaurants—and it’s not pretty.

The rising popularity—explosive popularity, some might say—of rosés (Olive Garden has even jumped on board!) has led to wineries and distribution companies offering restaurants and bars money to sell their wines. It should be the other way around, James notes.

These wines aren’t always the best–James calls them “big-brand pink swill”–and are often made from low-quality ingredients infused with chemical additives that mimic the blush tones of higher quality rosés, she explains.

There’s a time and a place for budget bottles of wine, but any discerning wine drinker will agree that when you’re dining at an upscale restaurant (and paying upscale prices for the luxury), you should be drinking good wine. Yet, when big-name wineries or distributors pay nice restaurants to put not-so-nice rosés at the top of their wine lists, that doesn’t always happen. (As with so many other things, brand-name isn’t always a good thing.)

If you’re determined to order some pink wine wherever you go, there are excellent options out there, and they don’t necessarily cost a fortune, either. Talk to your local wine retailer about rosés with labels you don’t recognize, and be prepared to try several different wines until you find a high-quality rosé you can stick to.