Rosé is not just for the summer – Why?
Light-pink wines – “Rosé” in France, “Rosado” in Spain – can be made wherever red grapes are grown. The heartland of this style of wine remains around the Mediterranean, where rosé wines were originally made to compensate for the lack of local fresh, light and dry white wines, but there are now delicious pink wines being made worldwide from Argentina to South Africa to New Zealand.
Note that I’ve written “wherever red grapes are grown.” Rosé wines are almost always made by fermenting red grape juice, and NOT by blending white and red wine together – a practice that is illegal in many wine-producing countries. The juice of a red grape is actually clear, not red, and it is the grape skins that cause the wines to become red.
This means that making a rosé wine is a little more complex than making a straight red or white. But the most important feature is that it is made using the techniques for making white wines and the resulting pink wine is a little closer in style to a white than a red.
The choice of grape variety and the way the wine is made are the two main factors affecting the taste of the wine and, above all, its colour – be it the dark pink (almost light red!) of a Rhone Valley or some Spanish wines, or the lightest of pink-tinged white popular all over Provence.
This grape grows worldwide, and is probably the most popular one for making Rosé, but it is often blended with other more local grapes. For example in Provence it is blended with Cinsault or Mourvèdre, in Spain with Tempranillo or Bobal, or in the Rhone Valley with Syrah or Cinsault. Flavours: Range from Fruity; Strawberry. Fresh cut watermelon, spice, with good acidity to Rich & Savoury.
The grape of the northern Rhone is increasingly used on its own, particularly in the New World, to make focused, spicy pinks. In the Rhone and Languedoc, the grape is often used in blends alongside cinsault, grenache and mourvèdre making it versatile with a wide range of dishes. Flavours: Savoury. Strawberry, pepper, cherry; a generally bold dry rosé style.
is usually used on its own producing delicate, refined wines in more northern areas such as Sancerre and England. In South Africa and the New World they can be just a touch off-dry and make a good aperitif. Flavours: Delicate, subtle, fruity, strawberries and raspberries.
mostly used in blends in Rhone and Languedoc, but it comes into its own in Spain as the Monastrell grape making Rosados of almost a coral hue and a fuller style that matches vegetarian dishes and spicy sausages. Flavours: Savoury. Cherry, plums, herbs.
Cabernet – both Sauvingon and Franc
Cabernet is used to make rosé in its homelands of Bordeaux and the Loire. Bordeaux rosé is deeper in colour, and robust enough to partner rich local dishes like confit duck. Cabernet-based Loire rosés are paler in colour, fragrant and on the sweeter side and, depending on levels of sweetness, can be surprisingly good with fruit tarts and pastries.
is used with or without cabernet in Bordeaux to make round, fruity wines reminiscent of summer pudding. Aromatic and juicy, rosé merlots are particularly good with cold cuts and meaty terrines.
Rosé Wines and Food
“Whatever the question, rosé is often a good answer”
…to quote Victoria Moore in The Wine Dine Dictionary
As a general guide the darker the rosé, the more time it has had in contact with the red grape skins and hence the more like a red wine it will feel and taste in the mouth.
Such is the versatility of this style of wine it can work well with fish, grilled meats or vegetables. When faced with choices such as a Salad of blue cheese, walnuts and leaves; Grilled Squid or butterfly Lamb with a salsa verde; Sardines cooked with basil and tomatoes; a mild tagine; Aubergine Parmigiana with lemon thyme and crème fraiche? – what is the best wine to drink the these “difficult” dishes?
To all of these the answer is a dry Rosé or Rosado and probably one based on Grenache/Garnacha which will not be overpowered by the fuller tastes.
Provence Rosés are very popular as aperitifs, but they can lack acidity which isn’t great when it comes to acidic food, such as dressed salads, tomatoes and richer foods such as lamb, aubergine parmagiana and strong cheeses. For these styles of dishes we recommend a fuller-bodied rosé with more bite and acidity like those from Spain, and keep the lighter-coloured rosés for fish dishes.
Just off-dry Rosés are a great match for Asian food and where there are sweet ingredients like ripe fruit, honey, glazed vegetables in pomegranate molasses. They will also go with light desserts.
In conclusion we have to say Rosé is not just for the Summer but should have a place in your rack all-year-round for those many meals that just need that one bottle that will cope with variety, both in food and mood.