There’s something about rosé wine that divides wine lovers everywhere. It’s a marmite of the wine world because at one end of the scale you’ve got the casual wine drinkers who love it and on the other end some hard-core wine enthusiasts who are more than a little snobbish about it.
It’s split too by a price barrier, I did some research a while ago with a group of wine-drinking-girls-about-town who laughed at the idea of spending more than £10 on a bottle of rosé to drink at home but didn’t think twice about spending £30 on a bottle of rosé Champagne. So what is it about regular rosé that stops it breaking the glass ceiling of the price sensitive wine basket and will it ever be taken more seriously?
When you get all geeky about it making a decent rosé is arguably more difficult than making a white or red. The colour, being one of the most important factors of its saleability, is the trickiest part of the process to achieve. It’s not, as some think, made by blending red wine and white wine, instead it’s made from red grapes and the intensity of the pink colour comes mainly from the amount of time the grape juice is left in contact with the skins.
To confuse matters there are always exceptions: some rosé Champagne for example can have red wine blended with it and then there’s Pinot Grigio blush which confuses even me mainly because of it’s rise to wine fame but for others it may seem odd because although we know it mostly as a white wine the grape itself has a pinky pigment in its skins which some winemakers let bleed into the otherwise white juice. Et voila a white wine jumps on the rosé bandwagon.
Popularity of rosé wine has only recently started to stagnate; having achieved outrageous growth in the UK since the millennium it now represents around 13% of UK wine sales. So is everyone sick of rosé or in typical British fashion is its plateau something else we can blame on the lousy weather? Wine marketers and industry insiders will no doubt object to what I’m about to say but in my pledge for wine honesty here’s one for you. Rosé is for summer and anyone that tells you otherwise clearly has a hidden agenda (most likely in wine sales!)
My top tips for buying rosé:
Rosé is not a wine for keeping. In a Beaujolais Nouveau sort of way rosé should be hunted down, purchased and drunk as young as possible (the wine, not you!). Always think about how long ago the grapes of the wine in front of you would have been harvested to determine how old it is and try where possible to drink within 12-18 months from that date. For example, take a French and a Chilean rosé both 2011 vintage and bought from a shop today. Which would be younger? The correct answer is the French one because it’s grapes will have been harvested in the northern hemisphere's autumn so September/ October last year. The Chilean one will have been picked in March last year giving it 6 months extra age in the bottle which is serious crows feet in rosé terms!
Coming up…. Rosé de Provence…. rosés by any other name often taste more sweet…..