For years rosé has been the most undervalued of components forming the wine palette. Perhaps due to being placed in a halfway position between red and white wine, its choice as a drink has caused a certain amount of confusion amongst those who haven't been entirely sure which dishes it went with or on exactly what occasions to serve it. Recently, however, the most romantic of wine's colours seems to be experiencing some sort of revival and its image is starting to be linked to elegance and glamour. The time has come, therefore, to discover the whole truth about rosé wine.
How it gets its pink colour
Rosé wine obtains its colour, naturally enough, from red grape skins, although it's possible in some regions to use a certain amount of white grapes as well. Therefore, the wine's final shade will depend to a large extent on the length of time the must spends in contact with the skins. If it's for a short while, the wine obtained will be an 'onion skin' colour, pale and delicate, whereas if the steeping lasts for a longer time, a drier and more robust wine will be attained, one that's closer to a young red wine. The best wines are acquired from free-run must, meaning, with just the pressing of the grape's own weight.
Ageing for rosés?
If we think about rosé wine, we rarely consider ageing as part of the vinification process, yet we should. There's a growing number of wineries which now opt for employing a bit of ageing for their rosés, whether partially or totally. Working with lees and the aromas resulting from short periods in oak impart creaminess and complexity to top of the range rosé wines.
Grapes used for rosé wine
Rosé wine can be produced using any red grape, but some varieties seem predisposed to this type of production. Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Syrah and Pinot Noir have travelled all over the world from their native France to give rise to magnificent rosés, whereas the Cinsault varietal appears to have resisted abandoning French soil. Italy too can count on notable grapes which warmly welcome being turned into rosé wine, such as the Nerello Mascalese; in Spain, the Garnacha Tinta, Tempranillo and Prieto Picudo are the important varieties to keep in mind.
The most famous rosé wine regions in the world
Rosé is usually made in regions also famous for producing red wines. However, a few wine-growing areas have gained fame and prestige with rosé wine as the real mainstay of their production. Provence, with Bandol and its subtle rosés at the forefront, Tavel, to the south of the Rhône and the famous Rosé d'Anjou produced in the Loire Valley, are considered among the most highly regarded French rosés. Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo and its Montepulciano wines, and Salento, in the heel of Italy's boot with its Negroamaro wines are some examples of Italian rosés boasting their own individual character. In Spain, Navarra and Cigales have gained a considerable amount of their reputation from the production of fine rosés, but we should also bear firmly in mind the new crop of rosés emanating from Rioja and the Penedès, despite being deemed traditional areas for red and white wines.
Rosé wine styles and pairings
In general, it's believed that rosés are low in alcohol, fruity and easy to drink, although in reality it's rather more complex: rosé wine styles can be just as diverse as white and red ones. The levels of alcohol content, just like the shades of wine, can vary enormously, from 11 to 13 percent. Regions such as Bordeaux produce elegant, smooth, dry wines, whilst in Spain and other better quality regions such as the Languedoc-Roussillon, it's normal to find more robust ones. The more conformist stylistically are the perfect accompaniment at formal gatherings, to appetizers and light starters, whereas the more generous work wonderfully well with braised vegetables, grilled oily fish and an assortment of rice dishes.