Although it may come as a slight surprise, rosé is always made from red-skinned grapes and, with the exception of some pink champagne, is never made from blending red and white wines. There are plenty of techniques to capture that lovely pink shade and usually the deeper the colour the longer the grape juice has been left in contact with its skins. Deeper colour translates into a more full-bodied wine with bolder flavours, which can make the perfect match for barbecued seafood and spicy flavours. The lighter pinks make for delicious apéritifs and partners to summer salads or canapés.
"Rosé wine is seriously coming of age, not only because of fashion, but also because there are so many well-made pink wines on the market these days," Nick Room, Rosé Wine Buyer.
There has been a huge growth in sales of rosé in the UK market in the last few years with increasing numbers of people sipping both still and sparkling pinks. In 2008, The Wine and Spirit Trade Association reported that 59% of UK wine drinkers enjoyed a pink tipple compared to only 37% three years earlier. This trend in rosé drinking does not seem confined to the UK as France last summer announced that it’s volume sales of rosé wine had outnumbered that of white.
There are several big players on the rosé market, with California and France dominating. Other important regions and countries of production are Spain, Italy, Australia, Chile, New Zealand and South Africa. However, whereas France and Spain have a deep-rooted tradition to producing rosé wine other countries such as New Zealand and Australia, have only recently started to produce significant amounts of rosé. It’s also worth looking out for our home-grown rosé as England now produces some seriously good and very refreshing pink tipples.
Rosé wine is made from red grapes with the exception of some rosé champagne, which can be made by blending red and white wine. However, if you’ve been following the wine news lately, you may have heard of the EU’s proposal to allow the blending of red and white wine in order to make rosé wine, something that has outraged producers in France and Italy. This matter is yet to be decided and there is a possibility that the laws governing the production method of rosé could change as early as this summer.
For the time being however, pink wine is made from red grapes and gets its shade of pink from the skins of the grapes. There are several methods of achieving the pink colour but the most common technique is to leave the skins of the grapes in contact with the juice after the grapes have been crushed. Often this method is complemented by the skins being macerated with the juice to bring out a deeper colour. After the winemaker has achieved the desired colour and flavour profile, the juice is separated from the grape skins, fermented and handled in a very similar fashion to white-wine making. For sparkling rosé wine like pink Prosecco or cava, the production method tends to be the same for achieving the pink colour.
Usually, a deep pink shade translates into a more full-bodied rosé wine with a bolder flavour profile. However, as some wrongly assume, the colour of the wine has nothing to do with sweetness. Rosé wine can, like any white or red wine, be made sweet by using very ripe grapes and stopping the fermentation before all the sugar in the grapes has been converted into alcohol. However, many rosé wines are made in a fruit-forward style and the sheer fruitiness can sometimes be perceived as sweetness. Below are a few of our favourite pink wines, all of which are dry but with varying levels of up-front and bold fruitiness!
Rosé wine is a seriously food friendly choice and matches many dishes and occasions. The light and pale rosé wines common in the Loire Valley and South of France, are refreshing apéritifs and matches delicate seafood and crisp salads. The slightly bolder flavours of Spanish rosado are a fantastic with tapas, paella or a spicy chorizo salad. Then there are the delightful pinks of the New World that tend to be fresh and seriously fruity and are truly terrific matches for spicy Asian cuisine, not to mention their affinity with grilled seafood.
Château Caraguilhes Rosé, Corbières, South of France
This organic rosé from the South of France has fresh wild strawberry flavours. Wonderful on its own or with full flavoured dishes such as Bouillabaisse, it also matches cold prawns, a seafood salad or sushi.
Chivite Gran Feudo Rosado, Navarra, Spain
An icon rosé showing a vibrant pink colour and intense floral and summer fruit aromas. The palate is soft and fruity with flavours of strawberry and raspberry with a refreshing acidity and gentle, long finish. Enjoy with tapas or a seafood paella.
Chapel Down English Rose 2008 England
This excellent rosé shows pure strawberry aromas on the nose and the palate follows through with juicy, fruity notes of strawberry and red fruits. A very refreshing wine with a cleansing finish and a tad of minerality.
Torres San Medín Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Central Valley, Chile
Delicious dry rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon grapes grown in the viticultural heart of Chile. Expertly produced from the best quality grapes yielding a lovely, refreshing and aromatic, lively pink wine. Try with fresh summer fruits or tropical fruit salad.
Joseph Mellot, La Demoiselle Sancerre Rosé, Loire, France
This is a dry, delicate and elegant salmon coloured rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes grown on flinty soils in Sancerre. The palate it fresh and zingy showing delicious notes of strawberry and raspberry fruit flavours with an excellent mineral note on the finish.
St Hallett Rosé, Barossa Valley, S Australia
This is a vibrant pink with a sweet, soft and delectable palate showing flavours of strawberries and raspberries. Made from grapes grown on St Hallett’s excellent wine estate in Barossa Valley, this is a great rosé to enjoy with spicy foods.
Bonterra Rosé, Mendocino, California, USA
A sophisticated and dry rosé made mainly from Sangiovese grapes grown organically in cool Californian vineyards. With fresh strawberry aromas and a palate full of cherry and red berry flavours, this dry yet juicy rosé is a great tipple on its own but would be wonderful with lighter salads.
Wild Rock Vin Gris Rosé, New Zealand
Vin Gris is the palest form of rosé: vinifying black Merlot, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Malbec grapes in a white wine fashion avoids leaching too much colour into the wine from the skins. Spring blossom, rosehips and sweet summer fruits confirm this is the perfect picnic wine.