War of the Rosés: two cheap pink wines battle it out for this week’s bargain selection

I absolutely LOVE rosé. Far from being the neglected middle child between red and white, pink wine can deliver some of the best parts of both. There’s complexity, acidity, astringency, fruit, herbs, wood…and you get to drink it cool or cold, which really hits the spot when summer comes around.

Our contenders, which both weighed in around $10:

Domaine des Nouelles 2016 Rosé d’Anjou


Ruby Red Rosé with grapefruit flavor

Yes. You read that right. And as wacky as it might seem, it makes sense- we don’t think twice about juice in wine for mimosas or sangria, and apparently last summer adding grapefruit to rosé was the thing in France. This bottle has grapefruit essence in it- similar to those satanically addictive La Croix sparkling waters.

As its name might suggest, the d’Anjou was absolutely full of ripe pear flavor, with notes of strawberry and white nectarine. It finishes neatly, with only a slight lingering apple Jolly Rancher hint at the end. It smells more acidic than it tastes, and is just a kind of no-brainer “porch pounder” wine. Off-dry, well incorporated, it smells like a rosé (complex, acidic, some woody notes) but tastes much like a white.

True confession: the aroma of the Ruby Red was so offputting that I had to talk myself into the first sip. I would bring it to my nose, inhale deeply and then put the glass back down. Some deep breaths, once again inhale…and no, no, I don’t think I want to try this. Do it for the blog, Emily! an inner voice whispered. OK fine, here goes, big sniff, down the hatch she goes.

It has all of the assertiveness of a Body Shop grapefruit lotion with a sickly sweet caramel/brown sugar hit running right through it. The best way I can describe it is the difference between fresh squeezed juice then tasting the stuff made with sucralose. There’s something slippery and false about the taste, as if the sweetness is parallel to the flavor instead of incorporated into it. 

The smell is actually much worse than the taste (high praise indeed!), although this is not the wine for me, to be sure. I threw some frozen peaches into it to see if that would do anything. Alas, nothing. This tastes like an unpopular Boone’s Farm limited edition. In my humblest opinion, this is wine for college freshmen. I’d take a Miller Lite over this.

What I would use this for is a base for sangria. Add some prosecco, stone fruit, lime juice, brandy or maybe cointreau, now there’s a party.

So the clear winner here is the d’Anjou. I was looking for a rosé, and it delivers on all of the qualities that makes pink wine so delightful. I also did an experiment where I added some grapefruit juice to it, and although I still like it as-is, it was much more tart, clean, and refreshing than Ruby. This is definitely something I’ll keep tinkering with. It’s akin to the difference between a margarita made with rail tequila and mix and one made with fresh ingredients and premium spirits. The things you have to do to stabilize the components are usually to the detriment of the product.

Thirsty Cellist score: 8.5/10

Pros: super easy to drink, affordable, fruity, clean, pairs with all kinds of stuff

Cons: if you’re not into fruity wine, you won’t like this. Slight residual sugars might offend purists. 

Recommendation: buy now, drink positively screaming cold all summer 

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