It’s a style of wine that we just can’t seem to get enough of. Cameron Douglas MS delves into the world of rosé to unearth why we love it so much
A few readers may remember the 1970s, some may care to forget. Yet it was a time when plenty of great memories were created – black and white television became colour, and TV shows like All in the Family, Charlie’s Angels and Fantasy Island were staple Friday or Saturday night viewing. The 1970s were also a time when wine was becoming the beverage of choice over spirits and beer. One wine in particular, a rose-coloured wine called Mateus Rosé, became so popular it dominated the category both locally and globally.
Mateus Rosé had lots of attributes that made it so incredibly popular – it was pink, tasty and a little bit fizzy. And it was affordable. The flat squat bottle shape was instantly recognisable and fitted perfectly in the refrigerator.
As fashion and time has shown, for New Zealand at least, that story changed when sauvignon blanc became the number one hit – followed by chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot gris.
A rose-tinted revival
Once again, rosé has popped up as one of the most popular wines of the last decade, and it seems to be holding on to its fame largely due to the quality of the fruit used, relative affordability and decent wine-making. As a winelist curator, I am increasing the number of rosé listings each year in response to quality, feedback and demand. The rosé section on a winelist has grown from maybe one or two wines to five or six.
The process of pink
Most countries that produce red wine will make rosé as well. There are two main methods of production for rosé – the first is the “bleeding” method.
When a winemaker intends to produce a dark red wine, they would deliberately extend the skin contact time. However, this can be sped up by removing – or bleeding off – some of the juice from the main fermentation tank after a short period. The juice that is extracted in this way is pink and can be fermented using a white wine-making method. These wines will be fruity, fresh, crisp and (generally) quite simple.
The second approach is to grow fruit intended solely for rosé production. Here, the winemaker can control the colour, acidity, tannin (tannin is what will give wine a dry taste) and may use old barrels to give a little bit of personality and complexity into the wine – and in doing so, grow the category with a wider selection and choice for the buyer.
Occasionally, a restaurant will blend white and red wine to make a house rosé and, while the colour suggests it is a rosé, it will not reflect winemaker or brand, plus no two blends will be the same.
Whatever the approach, the colour of rosé can vary from slightly pink to rose red, through to salmon orange or onion skin. These are all accepted colours and speak only to the winemaking technique, ranging from stainless steel tank ferments to old barrel and, of course, length of skin contact. Rosé wines will also vary in sweetness level from bone dry to noticeably sweet. There should always be an obvious fruity quality balanced against a background of texture.
find your favourite
Quality at all price points can be discovered with rosé these days. Be sure to try as many examples as you can at all of these price points, to then work out a producer and price that suits. The following examples will easily find a sweet spot with your taste and budget:
1. Tohu Pinot Rosé RRP $17.99
Tohu have been producing consistently high-quality wine from Marlborough for several years. Their rosé from pinot grapes is yet another example of how bright fresh fruit aromas and flavours come together with a juicy mid-palate and just-dry finish making it an easy selection for spring and summer. It is also a great aperitif wine.
2. The Ned Rosé RRP $18.99
The Ned, also from Marlborough, have been producing award-winning wines for well over a decade. Their rosé is packed with aromas and flavours of red currants and red berries, crisp fresh acidity and a long finish. Made with pinot noir and a little pinot gris, the wine finishes dry making it another aperitif style and uber-food friendly – try it with tuna sashimi.
3. Jules Taylor Rosé RRP $22.99
Jules Taylor has become a household name for many years. The rosé style Jules produces, traditionally from pinot noir, is packed with freshness and flavours of raspberry, strawberry, red melon and some rose water. While the wine finishes dry the core of fruit suggests otherwise. Again an example for pre-dinner drinking or with light red meats such as cold cuts or venison served medium-rare.
4. Chapoutier Pays d’Oc Rosé RRP $17.99
If you’d like to go international, a decent producer to consider is Chapoutier with their Pays d’Oc Rosé. This wine comes from the Languedoc region well known for rosé wine traditionally made with grenache grapes. The aromas and flavours include: sweet red cherry and plum, a hint of spice and mineral; easy acidity and freshness leading to a drier finish; great balance and food friendly attributes.
5. Ara Single Estate Rosé RRP $23.99
The Ara Single Estate Rosé has just a little sweetness to tease the taste buds, is balanced by freshness and crisp clean flavours of red berry fruits. Suited to appetisers and soups with a hint of spice this wine will match pretty much any kind of food you care to test it with.
6. Squealing Pig Rosé RRP $19.99
Squealing Pig Rosé from pinot grapes is light, crisp, fresh and just dry on the palate. A totally reliable example that delivers on aromas and flavours of light red cherry, a touch of white spice and fresh red berry fruit flavours.