With summer approaching rosé season is officially upon us and while this pink drink usually means uncomplicated drinking pleasure, the story is far from over. In today's blog post we're talking about this commonly misunderstood wine and hopefully will leave you with a new impression.
Ask yourself, what does the perfect rosé moment look like? If we took a poll, most people would probably say a girls night (which is fair because rosé during a family duel doesn't sound quite right.) But rosé can be so much more than the liquid candy you're thinking of. Rosé is a multifaceted wine that can be a great companion at a BBQ or the icing on the cake for a date night. Similar to other wines, there are also many different colours, tastes, characteristics and intensities of rosé - so all in all a very broad spectrum. We want to bring a little light - or pink - into the world of rosé, how it's made, and clear up some common misconceptions.
Before we dive into the details - no, rosé is not made by mixing white and red wine together. So how is rosé made? Let's start by talking about winemaking as a whole:
How is wine made? How does it get its colour?
The colour of wines comes almost entirely from the skin of the grapes. And regardless of whether red or white grape varieties: the pulp (inside) of the grapes is always light. So red wine gets its colour because the juice is lightly pressed and fermented along with the skin of the grapes - whereas white wine is made by pressing and fermenting only the juice. The longer the red wine sits with the grape skin, the darker, more powerful, full-bodied, and intense the wine becomes.
So how is rosé made?
Rosé wines are always made from red wine grapes that are pressed and then the juice and skins are allowed to soak together for a very short period. The longer the skin of the grapes sits with the juice, the darker and more aromatic the wine becomes. As soon as the juice begins to take on the beautiful pink colour and flavour the winemaker desires, the skins are then removed and the juice is allowed to ferment by itself, creating delicious rosé. The type of grape varieties and the growing location can also determine how the character of the wine develops. There are a few different methods that make an enormously wide range of rosé wines that can vary greatly in colour and flavour. From dark to light, dry to sweet, fruity to minerally, or strong to delicate - the possibilities are truly endless.
The skin of the grapes also contains the tannins that give red wine its strength and character. The shorter time means that fewer tannins get into the wine. Rosé wines benefit from the intense fruitiness of red wine, but at the same time, they can be lighter, fresh, and crisp like white wines. The ideal methods for uncomplicated drinking pleasure. But unfortunately, the complexity and potential of rosé wine are often underestimated.
Not all pink wine is the same.
There is actually no true definition or requirements to call something a "rosé wine" because of all the different methods, grapes, and duration of the individual production steps. And each step of the winemaking process can be changed to make a totally different end result. Think of it like a recipe - your moms signature dish doesn't usually taste the same when you get it at a restaurant because she has her own flair and secrets. That is just like winemakers adding their own spin to the wine "recipe" to make something uniquely special.
The rosé is now very popular, despite the fact that some still underestimate this wine. it's such a dynamic wine that it could match with just about any food or moment. Strong and full-bodied for a hearty dinner or a light, fresh summer wine - it's no surprise why this pink wine is so popular!
Shades of Pink: Understanding the Colours of Rosé Wine
Rosé can range from a light peach colour to nearly red, and you should be drinking it in every colour. Climate and production methods can contribute to how the wine tastes but the main thing to look for is what grape type it is made from. Here's a quick guide:
Provence (region in the south of France):
Pale, delicate, and famous in the rosé wine world, Provence rosé tends to be made primarily with Grenache and these wines are usually very light in colour, dry, and have crisp flavour notes of grapefruit, watermelon, and herbs.
Pinot Noir Rosé:
Typically Pinot Noir Rosé wine is medium to light blush in colour, these wines are usually bright and acidic, but with a somewhat earthier note. Expect similar crisp flavours of melon and strawberry but with less floral or herbal tastes.
A sweeter, bright pink rosé that has tart fruity flavours of raspberry that's balanced out with the sweet strawberry notes. Some Merlot rosé wines can be dry but the sweeter flavour profile is more common and the fruity berry flavours - like our Flying Pig Rosé from Metzger - are what many people picture when thinking about rosé.
Darker red in colour, the bold grapes of the Shiraz varietal mean this rosé has a more prominent flavour profile which is usually quite striking in taste and is more complex than other rosé wines. Hearty, lush, and featuring flavours of plums, berries and spices that give this wine a sweet and savoury combination. Try this unusual flavour combination with our First Sighting Rosé from the South African Strandveld Vineyards.
These are usually darker rosé made with red grapes used in Bordeaux varietals include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc, like in our Claret from Château de Lisennes. With citrus and berry flavours which are more full-bodied, creamy, and complex than other rosé wines.
Fun Fact: Rosé wine is believed to have started with Claret (“klar- ETT”) – which was a common style of red Bordeaux during the 1800’s. Back then, wine lovers were excited about the unusual pale red wines made with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. But nowadays, Bordeaux rosé wines have become bolder and darker to fit today’s red wine flavour preferences. Try our Claret by Château de Lisennes to sip this historical dark pink wine.
So we're back to the beginning again. The best way to know rosé is to try it, which is why we've put together a Wine Tasting: Rosé Box to introduce you to six very different rosé representatives who will undoubtedly convince you that, in addition to strawberries and candy, there are other exciting and dynamic flavours on the other side of rosé. We will take you on a journey through Germany, South Africa, France and Italy. With the mission being that the next poll where we ask "what does a rosé moment look like?" you will have many more answers than girls night.