In recent years, rosé has become increasingly popular, particularly as a summer wine. The selection of rosés available in the UK is becoming wider as the wine gains popularity.
While rosés are gaining popularity currently, historically, the earliest red wines produced were more like our modern day rosés. The primary reason for this was that winemaking techniques were not as sophisticated as today's techniques. Even when improvements in winemaking came along, the lighter style wines were considered better than the heavier, red wines we enjoy today.
BUT WHAT IS THIS PINK WINE AND HOW IS IT MADE?
Rosés are made from red wine grapes. Any red grape can be used, but the most common rosés are produced from blends using amongst others, Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese, Carignan and Cabernet Sauvignon. Single varietal rosés are also produced from grapes such as Pinot Noir in the USA and Pinotage or Cabernet Sauvignon in South Africa.
The most common method used to achieve the pink colouration is called maceration where the skins are left in contact with the grapes but unlike red wines, this period of maceration is very short. Contact time between the skin and the grape juice is usually less than 24 hours. Once the desired colour is achieved, the skins are removed.
Another method used is called saignée or bleeding. The winemaker "bleeds" off a portion of the wine during the early stages of the maceration process. This leaves the winemaker with a red wine and a rosé.
A third method is blending, where a winemaker will blend red and white wines until the desired colour is achieved. This method is not favoured, apart from in Champagne where it remains the traditional method for creating rosé Champagne. Some New World winemakers use this method to create rosé but it is generally less used than maceration or saignée.
Where are rosés primarily produced?
France comes out top in rosé production. Provence is the most well-known rosé producer and Languedoc-Roussillon produces the biggest volume of rosé. Other French appellations producing rosé include the Rhone Valley, the Loire Valley, Champagne, Jura, Beaujolais and Bordeaux. Rosés are produced in a number of other European countries, including Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain and Portugal.
In the USA, Californian winemakers have traditionally created White Zinfandel which is an often slightly sweet white wine with a pink touch. Zinfandel is a red wine grape but is processed using the saignée method described above with very little contact with the grape skins. In recent years, eastern Long Island in New York has become increasingly well-known for its Provençal-style rosé that definitely produces fresh, elegant wine that can compete in quality with French rosé.
What to pair with Rose
Rosé is best served between 10 and 16°C. Rosé should be stored in the fridge for several hours before serving to make sure it is chilled sufficiently. This makes it the ideal summer wine, although it can be enjoyed at any time of year.
As we've seen above, rosé is a very varied wine style so pairing is dependent on the style of rosé. Rosé is usually drunk when it’s young, so that also needs to be taken into consideration when deciding what to pair with the wine. A drier, Provençal rosé should pair well with salads, vegetables and grilled meats. A sweeter rosé should be served with dessert. To learn in more detail about which foods pair best with different rosés, visit Matching Food & Wine.
To view our selection of rosés, visit our website.