The perfect pink with just a pinch of blush. A good rosé wine is elusive, but worth the search. So much more than simply sugary sweet White Zinfandel, a good Rosé can range in color from the slightest hint of pink, to bright coral, right down to ruby red. The color comes from the fermenting process itself, meaning that any grape variety can be used to create a good rosé, and the flavor of the wine can be as varied as you can imagine. All the way from light and fruity, to very dry and robust, rosé wine is always a surprise worth discovering.
Rosé at a Glance:
Most Prominent in: All regions. Produced from nearly every grape variety, almost every major wine region in the world can produce a signature rosé.
Looks Like: Transparent in color, rosé will range in color intensity from very light to very bright. Expect hues from pink, to coral, to ruby.
Tastes Like: Most noted for fruit flavors like strawberry, rhubarb, and honeydew melon, a good rosé can also boast essence of rosé hip and citrus as well. More robust blends can also suggest celery, lemon, and cherry flavors.
A Bit about Her History
As early wine making methods most closely resemble the process for making rosés today, it’s very likely that the first wines ever would be what we consider rosé by today’s standards. From ancient Greeks and Romans clear through the Middle Ages, the rosé processes were the preferred and sole methods of wine production. The method and history remained much the same through the end of World War 2.
The introduction of a sweeter, fruitier blush into the European and American markets would change the production and perception of rosé wines moving forward. The imagery became synonymous with the very sweet white zinfandel, with that variety accounting for the mass of all rosé sales. In the 1970s, an American winemaker would create the first rosé from cabernet sauvignon grapes. The wine variety was unnamed, as it was far too red to be considered a white, yet too dark to be a red or even rosé. The title of “blush” rosé was born and became an industry staple.
Regions of Prominence for Rosé
A good rosé may be tricky to find, but that’s not due to scarcity. Rosés use a variety of different grapes, meaning that every major wine region can produce a quality rosé and ensuring that rosé is produced around the globe. Despite the wide availability and production, the Provence region of France, Rhone Valley of Spain, and Napa Valley of California have major presence in Rosé’s history and significance. Other regions where respectable rosés are created include Italy, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Timing is Everything
The thing that makes a rosé unique is that the color of the blend is left entirely up to the winemaker. The hue and intensity of the color is the direct result of how long the juice is exposed to the red skin of the grape. When making rosé, the winemaker will allow the grape to begin fermentation with the skin still on, thus dying the wine. At some point in the process the winemaker will remove the skins from the grapes. The longer the skins are left on, the deeper and brighter the hue will be. While some winemakers pride themselves on achieving the flavor of a rosé while giving the wine just the most subtle touch of pink, others aim for as bright and floral of a hue as possible. On average, a rosé wine spends between 20-120 minutes touching the grape skins. So, you see, when it comes to rosé, it’s all about the timing.
Varied Flavors & Colors
Rosé varies in flavor pretty dramatically. While most people will be best acquainted with the fruity, light bodied White Zinfindel variety, it’s far from the only option out there. Within the rosé family, you’ll find a full spectrum of sweet to dry, robust to light. This is great news, as it means there is a rosé wine for every flavor preference out there. Here’s a peek at how they differ and their spy name aliases so that you can identify one that suits you.
- Grenache Rosé- This fruity rosé is typically the color of bright summer rubies and boasts strawberry and orange flavors with a hint of hibiscus flower. You’ll find this variety heavy with acidity, but best served cold. Try it with Greek gyros.
- Tempranillo Rosé- Introducing a rosé with a savory palate of peppercorn, watermelon, and strawberry. Produced primarily in the Roja region of Spain, think about fried chicken or street tacos with this pale pink rosé.
- Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé- Savory, deep in color, and rich in flavor, black currants, bell peppers and spice wait for you in this glass. True to her roots, the cab-sav rosé also boasts an oak flavor and is best served room temperature.
- Sangiovese Rosé- A dry, fruity rosé best served chilled, this summer favorite is copper red in color and compliments chicken beautifully. The discerning connoisseur can pick up essence of rosé hip, green melon, and yellow peaches.
- Syrah Rosé- Yes, we said it. It’s a rosé masquerading as a Syrah, and it’s delightful. More on the savory end of the flavor scale, expect deep colors and rich peppercorn flavors here. You’ll also pick up on olives, strawberries, cherries and peaches in this eclectic blend. It’s pretty bold, so serve it room temperature in a red wine glass alongside a pepperoni pizza.
- Zinfandel Rosé- The well-known white zin is sweet with a high sugar content. Think cotton candy, strawberry, and lemon flavors when pairing, and serve this one ice cold.
- Tavel Rosé- Let’s call this unusually dry, salmon colored rosé the manly man’s pink wine. Ernest Hemmingway is said to have loved it, so it can’t be all bad, right? High alcohol content and low acidity mean an Earthy flavor that is suited well to BBQ.
- Pinot Noir Rosé- Take this little delicate, fruity rosé on the beach with you for a sexy sunset feast. Pairing well with seafood, the pinot noir rosé boasts raspberries, crabapple, strawberry, and wet stone flavors. It’s earthy in flavor, and coral in color. Just perfect for the sea.
- Mourvedre Rosé- A warm floral bouquet of coral color awaits you in this variety, typically synonymous with southern France. Fairly full bodied, expect flavors of smoke, meat, plum, rosé hips, and even violets.
- Provence Rosé- Fruity, lean, and sophisticated, this is the rosé to compliment your diva style and little black dress. It’s a pale pink with strawberry, watermelon, rosé petal, and a hint of salt in flavor and pairs perfectly with a fatty burger.
The Rosé Making Process
The winemaking process for Rosé can be completed in one of three major methods. They include maceration, saignee, or blending. Here’s how they differ.
Maceration—The most common method for creating rosé, this method allows grapes to sit, or macerate, in the juice for a given period of time. The method is used almost exclusively throughout France’s rosé regions.
Saignee—Pronounced “san-yay” this method is also known as the “run off” method. During the first part of fermentation, wine makers will allow some of the deeper hued juice to “run off” into a different barrel. It will later be used to create a new batch of rosé. The crushing of the grapes is done by gravity, with the weight of the grapes pressing on one another being the chief method of creating the darker run off juice. This method is not as common as maceration, but is most widely utilized in California’s Napa Valley.
Blending—In this rarely used method, wine makers literally blend a bit of red wine with a greater quantity of white wine to create the pink hue of a rosé. The method is mostly used to create champagne rosés.
The Perfect Pairs for Rosé
Depending on how you look at it, pairing a rosé can be super simple or impossibly time consuming. Rosés are made from a variety of grapes, come in a variety of forms, and boast flavors ranging from sweet and fruity to dry and savory. This means that there is, without a doubt, a rosé for every food out there. This also means that knowing which rosé to pair with your dinner can be frustrating. See our suggestions above, but in general, know that it’s pretty difficult to flounder at pairing rosé. From pizza and pasta to fried chicken, seafood, and even Asian cuisine, you can’t go wrong with Rosé.
Betcha’ Didn’t Know…
- Rosé wines may actually be among the oldest varieties in the world. This is because the process used to make it is the most straightforward there is, and early winemakers would have chosen these methods first.
- Rosés aren’t always a still wine. They can just as easily be turned into a quality sparkling wine!
- Full season peaks in July, making rosé the perfect summer indulgence.
- People living in France, the largest producer of rosé wines, consume more rosé wine than white wines.
- You shouldn’t age rosé. It’s best enjoyed within two years of fermentation.