Rosé Wine Guide: Everything You Need to Know
“Wine is the only artwork you can drink” – Luis Fernando Olaverri
From a translucent tint and rose-petal pink to sunset-hued salmon, rosé has its own blush palette to pick from, with various styles and flavours to match. As part of this series of wine guides, we’ll be giving you a whistle-stop tour of rosé, white wine, red wine, and champagne. From flavour profiles to food pairing, read on for our guide to this delicious and versatile pink wine.
How is rosé wine made?
Almost always made from black grapes, rosé acquires its distinctive colour through one of three processes: maceration, saignée or blending.
The Maceration method
The most common method used to make rosé. Also known as ‘skin contact’, maceration is when red wine grapes are pressed before being left to rest (macerate) in the grape juice for a chosen length of time. As a general rule, the longer the maceration period, the richer and darker in colour a wine will be.
The Saignée method
Translated from the French as ‘the bleeding method,’ the saignée method is used in the first few hours of making a red wine. The winemaker draws off some of the grape juice in the early stages of maceration and sets it aside to make a rosé wine before continuing with the red wine-making process. As well as resulting in a vibrant rosé, this method also intensifies a red wine’s concentration.
The Blending method
This method is used predominantly with sparkling rosés, such as those from Champagne, and is rarely used for still rosé wines. It is when a quantity of red wine is added to a vat of white wine in order to dye it pink. Only a small amount of red wine, around 5%, is needed.
What pairs well with rosé wine?
Similar to red and white wines, rosé has an array of flavours and textures. It can be still or sparkling, dry or sweet, fruity or savoury. With so many styles to choose from, it can be enjoyed with food or simply as an apéritif.
Lighter styles of rosé should generally be paired with lighter dishes such as charcuterie, mild cheeses, or salads, while full-bodied rosé wines work well with more robust dishes such as stews or smoky grilled meats.
Grape varieties used in rosé
Almost any red wine grape variety (black grape) can be used to produce a rosé wine. There are, however, certain grapes that are preferred as they produce particular styles of rosé.
Pinot gris / grigio rosé
Pinot gris (France) or pinot grigio (Italy) is a mutation of the pinot noir grape. Pinkish in hue, it’s mostly used for zesty, refreshing white wines but can also be used to make rosé. Pinot gris or pinot grigio rosé is typically produced in Italy, Canada and Austria.
Pinot gris / grigio rosé tasting notes
Pioneered by California and also known as ‘white zinfandel’, this is a rosé that’s generally both a little sweeter and a deeper shade of pink than other rosés. Zinfandel grapes are predominantly grown in California, accounting for around 10% of the region’s vineyards. It’s actually the same grape as primitivo, which is grown in Italy.
Zinfandel rosé tasting notes
Pioneered by California and also known as ‘white zinfandel’, this is a rosé that’s generally both a little Easy drinking, zinfandel rosé is known for tasting of strawberries and raspberries, with a delightfully sweet finish.
Grenache is one of the main grape varieties used in the famous Provence rosé blend. One of the world’s most popular wines, Provence rosé is produced in the south-east region of France that borders the Mediterranean sea. Grenache is also used in garnacha rosado in northern Spain.
Grenache rosé tasting notes
A delicate pale pink, grenache rosé is refreshingly dry and mineral-driven, with flavours of strawberry, rose blooms and melon.
Produced in Italy and California, sangiovese rosé is vibrant in colour and bursting with red fruit flavours. Sangiovese is Italy’s top grape variety yet one of the more underappreciated rosés. In Italy it is known as ‘rosato’ which is the Italian for ‘pink’.
Sangiovese rosé tasting notes
Sangiovese rosé has flavours of wild strawberries and cherries combined with notes of clove and allspice. Big and bold, it pairs perfectly with prosciutto, chicken with fresh herbs and caprese salad, as well as curries with coconut.
Produced in regions in southern France and California, syrah rosé is rich and full of flavour, making it one of the meatiest pink wines. Unlike most rosés, it does not need to be served chilled.
Syrah rosé tasting notes
Syrah rosé has notes of white pepper, cranberries and redcurrants with a distinct warming spiciness. As a fuller-bodied rosé, it pairs wonderfully with barbecued meats or dishes with a dash of spice.
Another fuller-bodied and rounder rose, mourvèdre rosé is coral or salmon in colour. It’s used in the renowned Bandol rosé.
Mourvèdre rosé tasting notes
Bursting with cherries, plums and dried herbs with a little smoky meatiness on the palate, mourvèdre rosé makes a wonderful pairing with Mediterranean dishes.
Cinsault, or Cinsaut, is a grape that’s often too light to be bottled alone. Producing a wine that’s mineral driven and dry, it’s used in southern Rhône red blends and the ever-popular Provençal rosé.
Cinsault rosé tasting notes
With flavours of strawberry, rose blooms and melon, cinsault rosé makes the perfect pairing with salty goat’s cheese, grilled chicken, tomato and garlic dishes, or salmon fillets.
Pinot noir used in sparkling rosé and rosé champagne
Pinot noir is a temperamental grape to grow due to its thin skin that fares best in cooler climates and is most frequently used in sparkling and champagne to give the wine its pink colour.
Pinot noir used in sparkling rosé and rosé champagne tasting notes
Pinot noir adds a distinctive fruitiness, with delicate flavours of red berries and floral aromas.
What is the best rosé wine?
As with any wine, this depends on your individual taste, where and when you will be drinking it, and your budget. Provence rosé continues to be one of the most popular choices.
Is rosé wine vegan?
As with all wines, not all rosé wines are vegan. This is because most wine is filtered using an animal-derived fining agent. If a wine is vegan then the producer will often highlight this (rather than the other way around).
Whether you’re looking for a blush wine to pair with dinner, a rose-hued bottle of bubbles for a celebration, or simply a refreshing apéritif, our wine list has a whole range of delicious bottles. Head to the rosé aisle for more inspiration.
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