What is rosé wine?
Rosé is the pink-colored, fruity looking type of wine that sits in the middle between red and white varieties. Despite its unique color, rosé wine does not have its own type of grapes. In fact, rosé wine can only be made from grapes of the red wine variety. This is because red and rosé wines get their hue from black grape skins. When left in the fermentation process, black grape skins release tannins which provide the signature color. To create rosé wine instead of red, these skins are left in for a much shorter period before being separated, providing just enough tannin for a pink tone and unique taste. In the past, rosé wine was not as popular and did get looked down upon as inferior, but in the recent years, it has become a staple wine of many fun parties and events.
Most rosé wines will come from the maceration method, which is when all the grape juice will be used to produce rosé wine. After the black grapes are crushed, the juice is left in contact with the skin for the desired length of time which is usually between 2 and 20 hours (as opposed to several days for red wine). It is easy to identify this length of time and the levels of tannin in the wine by looking at the color. The shorter the contact time with the skins, the lighter the rosé wine will be.
A small percentage of rosés are from the saignée or bled method, which is when a small amount of grape juice is taken from a standard red wine fermentation, to create a batch of rosé. This is most common when the producer wants to create a strong red wine with concentrated tannin and bleeding away some of the pink juice creates rosé wine as a by-product.
What about Rosé Champagne?
Rosé champagne or sparkling wine varieties are often made in a slightly different way, and instead add a dash of red wine, usually Pinot Noir, to a traditional white sparkling to add the flavor and signature pink hue.
What does rosé wine taste like?
As you would expect from its appearance, rosé wine brings to life flavors of red fruits and berries such as strawberry, sweet melon, tart rhubarb, delicate rose and zingy citrus. Some rosés can be extra sweet with high sugar levels, while others offer more savory, herbaceous and peppery notes.
Despite its similarities with red wine, rosé wine is often treated like a white and is best served chilled, often in a white wine glass with light dishes such as grilled fish, seafood, pasta, and salads. That said, there is a wide range of fantastic rosé wines which can be paired with just about anything.
When should you drink Rosé?
The great thing about rosé wines is their versatility, meaning that you can drink them just about any time. As an excellent middle ground between red and white wine, rosé can be enjoyed with a whole host of meats, fishes, and different cuisines. They are exceptionally good with barbecues, picnics or light lunches.
What are the different types of Rosé?
Here are some of the most popular variants of rosé wine and what you can expect from each glass.
Pinot Noir Rosé
Taste: Strawberry, raspberry, rose, mushroom
Style: Fruity light-bodied rosé wine
Description: This highly-perfumed, floral and fruity grape creates a light, blissful rosé. Although it originates from Burgundy, France, the United States has become a major producer of this fine wine.
Food pairing: Chicken, grilled fish, fruit, light pasta, seafood
Pinot Noir Rosé Alternatives
Sangiovese Rosé: This equally fruity wine has soft strawberry, melon and peach tones to create crisp, dry rosé.
Taste: Rose, strawberry, melon, peach, fig
Style: Light-bodied rosé wine
Description: Young bottles of Sangiovese rosé will be fresh, fruity and a little spicy with generally a darker, richer color than light alternatives such as Pinot Noir. When aged for longer, Sangiovese wines become oaky with more earthy tones.
Food pairing: Melon, chicken, couscous, grilled fish, sandwiches
Zinfandel Rosé: This moderately sweet and moderately acidic rosé is one of the most popular varieties, with fruit and candy flavors.
Taste: Strawberry, lemon, cotton candy, melon
Style: Easy to drink, light-bodied rosé wine
Description: Most commonly known as White Zinfandel, although this rosé does not have the more complex tastes and layers of other grapes and has a fairly high sugar level, it is the third most popular wine sold in the US and outsells red Zinfandel by 6:1.
Food pairing: Sandwiches, grilled fish, light pasta, Asian food
Zinfandel Rosé Alternatives
Tempranillo rosé: One of the most popular Tempranillos is Rioja from Spain. Rioja makes a great alternative to Zinfandel Rosé if you are looking for more savory flavors, with hints of green peppercorn and herbs alongside strawberry and melon.
Syrah rosé: If you’re tired of sweet wines and are looking for a bolder, meatier rosé then try a Syrah bottle. Leaning more towards the taste of a typical red, Syrah rosé goes great with hearty and spicy dishes.
Taste: Watermelon, cucumber, beeswax, strawberry, jam, white pepper
Style: Light-bodied rosé wine
Description: Grenache rosé, or Garnacha Rosado in Spain, is one of the lightest variants of rosé wine. The crisp dry wine has subtle fruit flavors and high-alcohol levels. The youngest Grenache Rosé wines provide the freshest taste.
Food pairing: Moroccan couscous and falafel, tacos and Middle Eastern dishes.
Grenache Rosé Alternatives
Pinot Noir: Although slightly darker than Grenache, Pinot Noir Rosés are also light-bodied, fresh and fruity with a crisp dry finish.
Taste: Red pepper, oily cured meats, dark cherry
Style: Medium-bodied rosé wine
Description: At the darkest end of the spectrum of rosés sit those from the Syrah grape. As one would expect deriving from a rich, meaty grape, Syrah rosés act more like a red than a white and are paired well with richer, heartier dishes.
Food Pairing: Pasta, pizza, seafood, goat’s cheese, salad
Syrah Rosé Alternatives
Sangiovese Rosé: If you’re looking for a similar, but perhaps a slightly lighter glass of wine, then Sangiovese is a great option and provides full, rich, fruity flavors and a color almost as deep as Syrah.