Unlike red and white wines, Rose wines are not made of specific grape variety. They are made exclusively from red grapes (always), and not from white grape variety, nor are a result of the blend of red and white grapes. They take some of the colour of the red grapes they are made of, but not enough to be classified as red wines, hence why the colour is an interesting feature of Rose wines. In fact, Rose wines differ primarily in colour. The darker the colour of the Rose, the more full-bodied the wine is, with bolder flavours.
Back in the 90’s, drinking Rose wine was considered a joke by wine lovers and connoisseurs. Rose gained a very bad reputation because of the mass-production of the California’s white Zinfandel, which was super sweet. Trying to convince people that drinking Rose wine was cool, seemed like an impossible task. Today however, drinking Rose wine has become trendy. There is a growing number of producers of Rose wine with winemakers from California and France dominating the market, however, some great Rose wines from New Zealand and Australia have topped the wine lists.
Here’s a short guide on Rose wines.
Rose wines are made exclusively of red grapes, with the exception of some Rose champagne, which can be made of blending red and white grapes. The pink colour is achieved through the so-called ‘skin contact’ method, where grapes with black skin are crushed and the juice is left to stay in contact with the skin for a while. After this process, the must is removed and the wine is left for fermentation. What’s interesting is that Rose wines are never aged for years (maximum of 2-3 years).
French and Italian producers of Rose wines have been outraged by the recent proposal made by the EU, to include the blending of red and white grapes for producing Rose wine. This is still a proposal, but might change wine making laws very soon.
You’ll find a wide palette of colours in Rose wines. The ones with a darker pink colour are mainly considered full-bodied wines with bolder flavours that go perfect with barbecue or other food rich in fats. Don’t be mistaken though, Rose wines are not sweet. They can be sweetened with ripe grapes, and if the fermentation process is stopped before all the sugars from the grapes are transformed into alcohol. They may generally have a fruit-forward style and a sheer fruitiness which can be perceived as sweetness.
Rose is a very food friendly wine and can be combined with a variety of dishes. Bolder flavours of Rose can complete rich dishes with barbecue meat, or some specialties, like tapas or paella, famous Spanish dishes. Lighter Rose wines make perfect aperitifs and go well with seafood, while the delightful pinks from the New World pair perfectly with Asian cuisine and grilled food.