Think pink

The "Real Men Drink Pink" campaign is heading into its second successful summer. It appears folk may actually buy rosé wine by hue, perhaps to matchy their attire. (Bill Hogan/Chicago Tribune)

Pink is the new black. Sales of imported dry rosé wine are up 28 percent from last year, says the Conseil des Vins de Provence. The "Real Men Drink Pink" campaign is heading into its second successful summer. It appears folk may actually buy rosé wine by hue, perhaps to matchy-matchy their attire.

And like so much else in wine, we follow the French, for whom a full one-third of their wine drinking is in the pink. Their way is becoming our way because we both know how deliciously dry rosé pairs with food. Vin rosé is here to stay.

If a grape has red skin, it can make a pink wine. Dry rosés come about in one of two ways. Winemakers may macerate the red-skinned grapes in their juice for as little as an hour. Or they may bleed off ("saignee") the juice a-pinking from a vat of red wine in the making.

We should prefer the first method, because it means the winemaker intended to make a pink wine from the get-go, rather than considered it a fortunate offshoot. But to parse that from the bottle is difficult because rosé wine labels rarely print which process was used.

Even the darkest pink wines can be made from a quick saignee, while many of the lighter rosés were made as full-on wines.

The Spanish favor garnacha and tempranillo; the French, grenache and cinsault. Italians use sangiovese; the Argentines, malbec; no one kicks cabernet sauvignon out of bed. After sifting through, sampling and tasting more than 50 dry rosés, from both the 2011 and 2012 vintages, here are three standouts by grape variety (full lists of recommended wines, by both grape variety and color, here).

Best pinot noir

2012 Kramer Vineyards Rosé of Pinot Noir Yamhill-Carlton Oregon: Actually smells like a red pinot; unbelievable for a pale pink. $18

Best grenache-based

2012 Chateau Margui Rosé "Perle de Margui" Coteaux Varois en Provence France: Minerals, grip, persistence of flavor, delicious. $22

Best kitchen sink

2012 Biohof Pratsch Rosé Niederosterreich Austria: Every year, another winning blend, this of St. Laurent, blauburger, zweigelt and pinot noir. $12

Keats toasted that "Wine comes in at the mouth/ And love comes in at the eye," but with rosé wines, the pours are reversed. Pink wines appear, in their usually clear glass bottles, in hues from the palest copper or coral to carmines nearly fire-engine red. But make you no nevermind about a pink wine from its color.

For example, rosés from Provence, especially those with a healthy percentage of cinsault, are a wee darker than water, yet with aromas and flavors as full as any food Provencal.

Darker pinks can port to the palate the juicy flavors of candied fruits — but do not always. The darkest wine that I looked at this year, the 2012 Angelini Sangiovese Rosato from Italy's Le Marche ($11), smelled exactly like a fruity white.

Merely looking at the range of dry rosés can be pleasure enough: pastel peony, hot pink, coral, peach skin, salmon, cantaloupe, grapefruit, rose petal, cheek-in-wind, raspberry — and shades of shades within those.

And the scents of dry rosés are as varied, all along a palette of banana, lemon, tangerine, grapefruit, watermelon, licorice, melon and onto most any berry or fruit imaginable: blackberry, cherry, strawberry, cranberry, raspberry, even, like red wine, currant and blueberry.

All of this before a sip or a savor. What appeal. Here are more highlights, by price.

Best under $10

2012 Vera Rosé Vinho Verde Portugal: A blend of vinhao and anho grapes for a beautiful hot pink hue and full-on aromas, and tastes of strawberry compote and minerals; dry, fine acidity, tingles the tongue. $9-$10