With the warming of this patch of earth, the shift from winter into spring and summer this land bursts with all the colours of the rainbow. As in nature a similar phenomenon takes place on picnic blankets, at family friendly festivals, in pub gardens, on balconies and at backyard BBQ’s. But the diversity of colour is restricted to varying shades of pink. It doesn’t matter if it says Rose or Rosé or Rosado or Rosato on the label, this country falls in love all over again with those wines in hues of peach, redcurrant and salmon.
Now how to navigate this rush of rose can be a bit daunting, but it’s easier than you might think. The basic rule being: the paler the wine the more delicate the flavour and the darker the more full bodied. Though the same guidelines do not translate as easily in terms of judging dryness. The best indicator is reading the label, as most wines give you some idea as to what to expect.
In terms of flavours it really depends on the grapes used in the blend or single varietal. From my experience lighter rosés possess more floral aspects, showing soft cranberry, strawberry, raspberry and flinty mineral profile. While deeper rosé produces darker forest fruit, green herbs and tannic bite. Most rose has medium to high acidity as well.
Now let’s have a look at the big rosé producing countries:
The biggest producer of rosé in the world, with almost the entire region of Provence dedicated to making the pink stuff. Most the rosé we see in the UK is French and tends towards the dry to bone-dry end of the spectrum.
Other regions to note are Tavel (Rhone Valley), Loire Valley and Pays d’Oc.
Not far behind France in terms of production, but we seem to see much less of it here. More subtle wines are made in the North (Veneto and Trentino-Alto Adige) and they get bolder as you head south (Calabria and Sicily). Generally similar to France, producing drier rosato wines.
A big player, but what we see here is often labelled Blush or White Zinfandel. Zinfandel is a varietal (with Italian origins) popular for making big, bold and often boozy reds. The style has a strong following due to its fruity sweetness and easy drinking… However I am not a fan. If you like your pink with a dash of sugar, then fill your boots. Nearly all of it is Californian.
Ranks fourth in terms of output, but must be second to France in terms of availability here in the UK. Rosado will often appear deeper in colour and have more forward red berry fruit. This is due to the grapes ability to get very ripe in Spain’s warmer wine producing regions. Commonly produced from Garnacha (Grenache) and Tempranillo they follow that Euro trend of being drier in style.
Other countries you may see on the shelves: New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Argentina and South Africa. We are even starting to produce some decent rose here in England. Just use the paler/darker rule and read the label.*
A good many rosés are quite nice for drinking on their own, but in terms of food matching I think using the white versus red model works well. So thinking of pale rosé like a white and pairing with light salads, soft cheeses, subtle shellfish and fruit salads. Darker more tannic rose can take the place of red with: charred flavours, BBQ vegetables, some spicy foods, meaty fish, grilled meats and some hard cheeses. Fruiter rosé is even a tasty match for chocolate puddings.
They are plenty of good rosés out there but here are a few of my favourites:
- The Exquisite Collection Mendoza Rosé-Argentina-Aldi-£5.99
- Chapel Down English Rosé-Kent-M&S-£6.49
- Painted Wolf ‘Rosalind’ Pinotage Rosé-Paarl, SA-The Wine Society-£7.25
- Niño de las Uvas Rosado–Bullas, Spain–Laithwaite’s-£8.99
- Château Pigoudet ‘La Chapelle’ Rosé-Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence–Majestic £9.34 (when you buy 2)
Despite rosé mostly being drunk in summer I am a big proponent of it being an all year round wine. The bolder examples in my opinion can hold the middle ground between the fresh acidity of white and the meaty spice of red.
So get out there and drink pink!
*Point of interest- Despite Germany 5th and Russian joint 6th in terms of worldwide production I have seen precious few German and zero Russian on shelves in this country. Somebody in the former USSR is missing a trick there. Russian Rosé is a marketers dream.