June is here and the warm weather has arrived, so it’s time to put the big reds away and start reaching for the Summer weight wines. For many of us that means rosé wines, but it hasn’t always been our wine of choice.
Whether you call it rosé wine, pink wine or blush wine, it had a bad reputation for a long time and let’s be honest, it was probably deserved. Mateus was introduced after WWII and that sickly sweet, slightly sparkling wine was what many people thought of when they heard the term rosé. White Zinfandel arrived in the 1970’s to continue the sweet tradition and rosé fell out of favour with wine consumers. It was left for the Grammas to drink as wine drinkers wanted more sophisticated choices.
Enter the New York Times declaring in 2006 that rosé was The Summer Drink to Be Seen With, and a revival began that put rosé back into the hands of the hip, up and coming crowd. Now, rosé sales are surging, especially the dry Provence style rosés of Southern France. Rosé is now being made by winemakers around the world which is exciting for us, the consumers. Rosés now range from pale apricot to deep salmon in colour, dry to sweet, so everyone can find a rosé they like.
I was curious about the variety of roses available at our government stores here in BC, so I decided to pull together 4 roses from around the world and do a comparison tasting. You can read my tasting reviews in the post Rosé Wine: A World to Choose From.
Fun Facts About Rosé
- It is believed that the first wines were rosé. It makes sense since the wine would have been pressed soon after harvest by using either hands or feet, limiting the amount of colour extraction.
- Rosé wine can be made with any red grape varietal.
- In the EU (Europe) rosé must be made from only red grapes, with the exception of Champagne.
- Blush wine can be a blend of red and white wine and is often found in the New World.
- Rosé wine can be still, semi-sparkling or sparkling.
- In Portugal and Spain it is called Rosado.
- In Italy it is called Rosato.
How Rosé Is Made
There are basically 3 methods of making rosé wines.
1/ Skin Contact (Maceration)
The red grapes are processed in the same manner as red wine production. The difference is the juice is drawn off after 6-48 hours of skin contact. The length of time determines the depth of colour; longer contact = deeper colour. The extracted juice continues its fermentation at a lower temperature to retain the fresh fruit flavours.
2/ Bleeding (Saignée)
This method is basically the same as drawing off but only a small portion of the juice is removed and used for the rosé. The main purpose of this removal is to intensify the remaining red wine, so the rosé wine is really a by-product of this technique. The bleeding method results in rosé that is often considered a lower quality than other methods.
This is a common method for California rosé, as California producers often want full body, intense red wines.
A small amount of red wine is added to white wine to create a rosé. This method is not allowed in the EU, except for the production of champagne, however, inexpensive New World rosés are made this way. The colour of the rosé is determined by the amount of red wine added.
Fresher is better when it comes to rosé so find the newest vintage. Chill in the refrigerator and serve in white wine glasses or champagne flutes.
Dry rosé wines are considered to be easy drinking, “food friendly” wines which go well with many foods. Try them with salmon, shellfish, salads, soft cheeses and appetizers.
Off-dry or sweeter rosés pair well with foods with some ‘heat’ to them like Thai and Asian foods.
All styles of rosé are also excellent on their own, paired with a sunny patio or beach umbrella.