FOOD

Dive Into the World's Best Rosé, Hampton Water, With Co-Founder Jesse Bongiovi

Jesse Bongiovi talks the future of wine: "There's still a lot to educate people about just in the rosé category."

The very first sip of Hampton Water rosé is much like the name suggests—a dive into the luxury of the Hamptons.

It's like taking in the sorbet sunsets of the Long Island Sound, except with a crystal glass of wine that manages to light up your palate with the finer things in life, similar to the glamour and allure of the swanky shop-lined streets of Southampton.

The rosé splashes your throat, cooling you down with crisp yet subtle notes of watermelon rind, barely ripened strawberries and sea salt air. It's likely to bring back memories of long summer days spent frolicking on the beach at the end of the world—also known as Montauk.

A complete blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre grapes, Hampton Water is arguably much more than just a brightly pale rosé in a pretty glass bottle. Hampton Water is a lifestyle—a lifestyle of ease and comfort and appreciation for the wonder and beauty surrounding you. That alone makes it a wine just about anyone can enjoy, no matter where they're from or where they're going. It's likely also one of the factors that caused it to be named Wine Spectator's best rosé in the world.

Launched by Jesse Bongiovi and famous father Jon Bon Jovi in 2017, Hampton Water received the highest accolade of topping the Spectator's annual list. Ranking No. 83 on the overall list, Hampton Water was one of only two rosés to be featured. Wild Thing Rendezvous rosé also made an appearance, albeit at No. 93.

"If you would have told me a year ago that we'd have the No. 1 rosé in the world, I probably would have laughed. The reaction has been unbelievable and we're incredibly excited that people not only like the idea but now obviously love the juice that's in the bottle," Bongiovi told Newsweek recently.

The idea behind the wine was sparked one night in the Hamptons after Jon Bon Jovi offered his son and Ali Thomas, Bongiovi's college roommate-turned-business-partner, a glass of "pink juice," which is Jon Bon Jovi's moniker for rosé. The millennials quickly updated the rock star on the new-age term to describe rosé, particularly while in the Hamptons.

"We looked at him and we were like, 'No, no no. Listen, you're sitting in the Hamptons, you're not drinking pink juice anymore. You're drinking Hampton water,'" Bongiovi recalled.

Thus Hampton Water rosé was officially born—granted it took several months of research and conversations with winemakers, sommeliers and wine editors before Bongiovi took the idea back to his dad, who essentially helped develop the wine with Gérard Bertrand, one of the most renowned winemakers of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France where Hampton Water is produced.

As for why a wine called Hampton Water is made anywhere other than in the Hamptons, the answer is simple: "We knew the South of France was making some of our favorite rosés. Our whole idea with this project was that rosé, no matter where it's from, is consumed like crazy out in the Hamptons," Bongiovi said.

"The South of France and where Gerard is from is very similar to the Hamptons. It's beaches. It's good wine. It's good food. It's spending time with family. These are all things that Gerard held very dear and we also thought were important," he continued. "So although we are separated by an ocean, the lifestyle, what we try to achieve and what we like to do are very similar no matter where you're from."

With the success of being the No. 1 rated rosé in the world under his belt, one would assume Bongiovi would have expansion on the brain. That's not exactly the case. Instead, the 23-year-old hopes to continue to change the wine game for rosé, mostly by getting more people—new to wine and those well versed in grapes—to drink more of it. "There's still a lot to educate people about just in the rosé category," he said.

"The second Labor Day happens people go, 'Well now I can't drink rosé until the summer.' I think that's kind of ridiculous. Why not? We drink it all year round," he said. "It doesn't go bad just because the season changed."

One of the perks of Hampton Water is that the wine is aged between 30 and 40 days in new French Oak, adding to the value of its limitless seasonality. The quick turn-around in new oak gives the rosé a much fuller body and character that allows it to stand up to more winter foods. That means the juice is light enough to pair with oysters in the summer but has enough structure to wash down holiday turkey.

Bongiovi added: "We just want people to know they don't need to be super knowledgeable about wine to drink it. Rosé is not like a 10-year-old Burgundy. It's not something that's super expensive. It's something that is easy to enjoy and it can be enjoyed all year round."

For those interested in getting to know more about wine, rosé specifically, Bongiovi offered solid advice: "Start with Hampton Water and go from there."