Maybe because it’s a blend, maybe because there’s no point in aging it, or maybe because half-full bottles of it sit wedged into suburban refrigerator doors with decorative stoppers jammed in them, but rosé has a dodgy reputation. It’s grocery-store wine. It’s “cougar juice.” It’s simply an embarrassing color.
Except, no, it isn’t. Granted, there’s poor-quality rosé out there, but there’s also plenty of sub-par Pinot Noir, too. And when it’s a sparkling rosé, it’s a whole other category, ideal for summertime day-drinking. Considering that one can get one’s fill of bottomless mimosas after a while, it’s nice to have something a little more elegant that doesn’t require orange juice to mask it.
Sparkling rosé doesn’t have to be meh. Some of the most highly regarded wines from Champagne are pink in color, and pétillant-naturel rosés from the Loire command respect within the industry. In general, California is simply too hot to really excel in this category, although Caraccioli Cellars in the Santa Lucia Highlands has a Champagne-style rosé that’s earned widespread approval. In any event, here are our choices for where to enjoy some rosé — sparkling or otherwise — with brunch or lunch.
Hog & Rocks
3431 19th St.
415-550-8627 or hogandrocks.com
What do we want with our weekend brunch? Oysters! What do want with them? A $10 glass of Ken Forrester Petit Rosé from South Africa. (For the record, we also want a flight of four types of ham.) This Mission mainstay continues to hit all the right notes, especially with something light and sparkly to cut through that fried green tomato benedict.
4068 18th St.
415-400-4623 or larksf.com
This south-facing wine bar plugs one of many holes in the Castro’s restaurant scene, offering above-average fare with ample opportunities for a pairing. There are meaty dishes like angus sliders, plus a charcuterie board, but if you want a slight mid-day buzz and no food coma, try Mendocino’s Richard Grant Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir with some aginares — sautéed artichokes, eggplant, sundried tomatoes, spinach, olives, shallots, and chickpea over Greek yogurt.
736 Valencia St.
415-553-8667 or missioncheese.net
Rosé’s strong acidity makes for a great pairing with assertive cheeses like goat, feta, or Gruyère. And where better to find the perfect match than at an industrial-loft cheese cave on Valencia Street? Mission Cheese’s flights rotate daily, but the ’monger’s suggestions are never out of place, especially when you throw raclette or pork rillettes into the mix for added weekday decadence.
1896 Hyde St.
415-796-2901 or stonesthrowsf.com
This upscale restaurant with casual edges is open only in the evenings and for Sunday brunch. Further, it’s got a seductive $25 “Bottle of ‘mimosa’ your way” option with various juices. But if you’re in Russian Hill brunching on Waldorf salads, a bottle of Tibouren Clos Cibonne Rosé is the way to play.
2001 Chestnut St.
415-814-2671 or doriansf.com
Perhaps fearful of incurring the wrath of wine snobs, many restaurants relegate their rosé offerings to a single glass. Not so at The Dorian, a New American spot in the Marina, where there are several brut rosés to be had, and an entire category of standard rosé on top of it. Keep it classy with a half-dozen oysters, or be daring and sip it alongside shakshuka, the Moroccan egg dish with cumin and yogurt.