What do Minnesota and France have in common?

a. A plethora of farmers markets.

b. An eagerness to doff berets and celebrate Bastille Day.

c. Cool museums.

d. A penchant for pink wine.

The answer is, of course, all of the above.

Word arrived last week that the French are now drinking twice as much rosé as they did 20 years ago. It's a safe bet that Minnesotans are following suit -- and, blessedly, the trend hasn't been accompanied by an infatuation with Jerry Lewis "comedies."

Stores such as Minneapolis' North Loop and St. Paul's Solo Vino have scores of rosés on their shelves, and virtually all of their peers have upped their inventories. And while we haven't gone quite as far in the thinking-pink arena as our amis in France -- where one of every four bottles sold is rosé -- we also have a decidedly shorter season for this al fresco favorite.

"It started taking off six, seven, eight years ago," said Bill Abrahamson, wine buyer for the Top Ten and Northgate chains. "You went from 0 to 60, and like anything else that shows any kind of strength, everybody gets on board."

Seeing that consumers were flocking to the crisp, not-too-light-or-too-heavy juice, wineries that hadn't given rosé a second (or even first) thought got aboard the Pink Express.

In the past year, I've had tasty rosés from Australia (Nine Vines), Croatia (Korta Katarina) and Oregon (Anne Amie, Evesham Wood). Seriously good stuff might come in cool bottles (the voluptuously shaped Sofia) or with cool labels (Montes Cherub), and be made from merlot (Paradigm) or malbec (Michel Torino), cabernet (Croze) or sangiovese (Melini).

California has a raft of excellent offerings: Bonny Doon "Vin Gris de Cigare," Robert Hall "Rose de Robles" and even a winery that makes only rosé (SoloRosa).

But the nexus for this wine is the south of France, and the favored grape is grenache, perhaps with some syrah, mourvedre or cinsault in the mix. As American consumers became more familiar with -- and enamored of -- the pink stuff in general, these "real deal" wines from Provence have gained popularity despite being spendy in a down economy.

"We've had a really good uptick on sales on the more expensive ones from [Provençal regions] Tavel and Bandol," Abrahamson said.

That reflects national trends, which saw sales of imported rosé costing $12 or more a bottle rise 17.3 percent last year, according to the Nielsen Co. Among the more delicious bottlings in that realm: Commanderie de la Bargemone and Chateau Saint-Baillon Opale.

Now if we can just get some rosé weather. ...

Bill Ward • bill.ward@startribune.com