What does this remind you of: Crushed raspberries, spiced melon and orange pekoe tea; dried Provençal herbs and damp stones; myrose2_011.jpgscintillating acid, refreshing liveliness and a hint of dry but friendly tannins?

Yes, I just had my first rosé of the summer. Actually, I’ve tasted a few others, but they were from 2005. This one, from Bieler Père et Fils, Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, is from 2006, so it’s scarcely eight months old. It’s made from 70 percent syrah grapes and 30 percent grenache, and as you can tell from the description above, it’s absolutely delightful. The wine is imported by USA Wine West in Sausalito, and should retail for about $10.

We’ll be drinking lots of rosé wines this summer, many from France, where they’re not just from the South nowadays — they’re made in Burgundy and Bordeaux too — but also from Italy and Spain, South Africa, Argentina and California. The secret of a great rosé is that it combines the refreshing, thirst-quenching qualities of a light, crisp white wine with the red fruit, spice and supple body of a red wine. They can be made from any grape that produces red wine — merlot, zinfandel, pinot noir, grenache and syrah, nebbiolo, sangiovese — as long as the grape skins are quickly separated from the juice, a process that lends these wines their ravishing summery colors of muted onion-skin, pale copper-tangerine, sunset-salmon, tarnished peach or even as dark as myrose_01.jpgcranberry-magenta, but not ruby, that’s too intensely red. And remember that, despite the implication of their floral name, rosé wines are not sweet; the best are bone-dry to the point of bracing, chalky austerity.

Served these wines chilled, though not ice-cold, as an aperitif or with ham or cured meats or with such backyard fare as fried chicken, potato salad and deviled eggs. Rosés are the perfect wines for those seductive “P” words of warm weather: Porch, patio, pool and picnic.

Ahhhh, I think it’s going to be a good summer.