Rosé wine gets a bad rap. Thought of by some as frivolous ‘summer juice’ and too-often confined to just a tiny section of the wine list, it can seem like an afterthought to the more earnest pours of red and white. But delve deeper and you’ll find there’s much more to rosé than you might think, and the sheer range might just surprise you. Wine journalist and sommelier, Abbie Moulton, tells us which rosés to try this year.
The style we’re most familiar with in the UK is the powder-pink of Provence. The best of which are beautifully elegant and delicate, with soft fragrance and subtle flavours. Try Thomas & Cecile Carteron’s Elegance Rosé from the sun-drenched shores of St Tropez. Made from a blend of Cinsault, Grenache and a drop of Syrah, it has layers of jasmine florals and soft red berries, and is a perfect example of the refined wines of the region.
From Provençal to rosato: there’s more to pink wine than meets the eye
But as well as loving the Provençal style, today we’re more adventurous than ever in seeking out wines that fall out of the norm. We’re embracing ‘orange’ wines and chilled reds, and we’re more interested in rosés of different hues. From the deep, magenta rosatos of southern Italy to the lively, strawberry-pantone Txakoli of Spain’s Basque country, there’s more to pink wine than meets the eye.
Look to wines from Chinon in the Loire for deep, cherry-tinted styles from the Cabernet Franc grape. Try the north of Italy for pale Chiarettos from Bardolino and Veneto. Or head South for the fruity rosatos of Puglia. Austria is reaping a reputation for vibrant, super-crisp rosés, like the organic Gut Oggau Family Reunion. And England’s rosé is really blossoming, Dunleavy Vineyards’ English Pinot Noir Rosé from Somerset is a beauty of elegance and texture, with gorgeous pink hues the colour of crushed rose petals.
It’s a myth that rosé is always sweet
Now let’s talk about sweetness. People see that candy colour and assume the wine will be sweet, but this common misconception is far from the truth. Pale rosés are often delicately dry, while darker rosés generally have more tannic heft and savoury notes than their paler cousins.
In fact, while the colour actually gives away very little about sugar levels, one thing you can rely on is that the darker the wine the more intense the flavour.
It all comes down to winemaking
You can think of rosé almost as a ‘baby red’ wine, where red grapes are picked, crushed and the juice is in contact with the skins for some time during the wine-making process. Whereas with red wine the juice and skins are left to macerate for many days, rosé wine juice will be run off after just a few hours. The longer the contact, the more flavour, texture, and colour the resulting wine will soak up.
Rosé can be made from any red grape, with some held in higher reverence than others. The Southern Rhône holy-grail blend of Syrah, Grenache and Mourvedre paints a masterpiece of pink, with the entire appellation of Tavel dedicated to the production of these respected, complex wines. Eric Pfifferling’s L’Anglore Tavel Rosé is a classic example of how profound they can be, and with prices around the £45 mark it proves that rosé is taken seriously. Another much-loved and lauded bottle is Domaine Tempier Bandol, made from old-vine Mourvedre for a serious, brooding wine. Pinot Noir is another well-known pink provider, producing cerise sips from Argentina to New Zealand and everywhere in between.
So much more than a summer drink
While the rosé sipping season we know starts in spring and stretches into long hazy summer days, there’s really no reason why it shouldn’t be popular all year round. “Rosé is genuinely my favourite type of wine to drink at any time of year,” say Ingrid Bates, winemaker at Dunleavy Vineyards in Somerset, “I never understand why rosé has become something people associate with the summer months. A serious wine – good rosé can be every bit as complex as a good red or white wine. I say people should just drink what they like, when they like and with whatever they like. No rules allowed!”
Rosé with food: the perfect pairings
Surprisingly versatile with food, we already know that your bottle of blush works wonders with a summer salad, but try deeper rosés with earthier, umami-rich dishes like mushroom or beetroot, or anything charred off the grill, where smokey flavours will come alive. Or try it with your takeaway – rosé wine goes damn fine with pizza.
I’m sold, where do I get my fix?
Grab a bottle of Dunleavy Pinot Noir Rosé on Farmdrop or drink in at Bellita wine bar in Bristol. And if that gives you a thirst for more, check out Bristol’s Bar Buvette for a bottle of glorious Pink Bulles. In London, Honey Spencer at Nuala has dedicated an entire page of her wine list to rosés of all depths. Try Gentlefolk’s Rainbow Juice or Gut Oggau’s Family Reunion (pictured, left) for two stunning examples.
So now you know… make sure you get your rosé fix all year long.