On the heels of the latest post in the Education & Commentary section, Rosé: A Summertime Sip Worth the Plunge, a reader named Cara wrote in, saying that she was "sick of Sauvignon Blanc all summer long," and that she "would like to get more comfortable with Rosé - the less fruity variety, of course." Cara asked, "How do I pick a good [rosé]?"
Thanks for the question! Sauvignon Blanc is a great summer wine, and I'm glad you've been enjoying it. However, I always like to say, life is too short for one wine, so it's good that you're looking to expand your palate. Rosé is certainly a style of wine that offers a good deal of refreshment in the summer months, and contrary to popular opinion, most rosés today are dry, as opposed to sweet.
To ensure that you find a dry rosé, I'd stay away from White Zinfandel, which is almost always sweet, and generally mass produced. For a nice introduction to rosé, I'd look to rosés from Provence, the Languedoc, and other parts of southern France. Rosés of Pinot Noir from Oregon in the U.S. are a great starting point as well. In general, these are lighter colored, dry, crisp rosés. As you become more comfortable with rosé, branch out and look for rosés with a deeper hue. Italy, Bordeaux, and rosés of Malbec from Argentina are good places to start. These darker rosés are still fairly dry, but will have richer, and deeper red fruit flavors.
It's important to remember that a wine can be "fruity" without being sweet. Dry fruit flavors are what most of us look for in a wine. I'd be willing to bet that the hint of grapefruit and lemon grass is a big part of what you enjoy in Sauvignon Blanc. In rosé, expect dry red fruit flavors (raspberries, strawberries, etc.) with hints of minerality. I listed a fairly comprehensive list of dry rosés in my latest column.
I think you'll find that any of those rosés will provide you with a great introduction to rosé. Let me know if you have trouble locating any of these, and I'll be happy to provide additional recommendations.