Pink is in – even with the blokes! Master of Wine Emma Jenkins looks at the summery appeal of rosé, a wine that is seeing a huge increase in popularity.
The eagle-eyed amongst you may have noted an expansion in the rosé shelves lately. When I judged at the Air NZ Wine Awards last year, the rosé class had 100 wines, with some absolute stunners. Only a few years back, there would have been 30-odd wines in a class considered the judging day’s booby prize. Not so now! Sales are rocketing globally and wineries are scrambling to meet demand. There’s even a phenomenon known as Brosé – yes, that’s bros (aka, men) drinking rosé. You read it here first. So, to help you keep up with the play, here’s the low-down on rosé.
What is a rosé? Rosés are generally fresh, light bodied and fruity with little tannins. Essentially, a rosé is red wine made a bit more like white wine, ending up a delicate hue of pink – hence its name. Rosé wines have been around forever (Provençal production dates back to around 125BC) and many red wines of past centuries would have been more akin to what we now know as rosé.
How are they made? Almost all red grapes are white on the inside. The colour is in the skin, so when grapes are crushed at the start of the winemaking process, the longer the juice is in contact with the skins, the deeper the wine’s colour. Skin contact usually lasts for days, or even weeks, for true red wines but when making a rosé you want just a touch of colour, so skin contact is a few hours to a day at the most. The final pink will relate to the type of grape used as well as skin contact time, as red varieties vary in hue and pigment depth. Less commonly, rosés can be made by “bleeding off” a bit of red wine while the colour is still pale, or even by blending a little finished red wine with white wine, although this is mostly confined to some rosé sparkling wines.
What are the different styles? Rosés can be bone dry through to sweet, made from any number of different grapes, and can range from light and rather frivolous to textural and serious. If this sounds a bit confusing, fear not. Most New Zealand rosés are made from pinot noir, usually in vibrantly fruity, off-dry styles. French and Spanish examples tend to be drier, with more savoury tones, and are wonderful with food. As always, exploration is the fun of it... What do you drink them with, and can you age
them? Rosés are versatile food wines, having aspects of both red and white wines. The classic matches are salmon or salade Niçoise, but goat's cheese tarts, tapas and Mediterranean foods as well as Thai and Indian all suit a decent rosé. The majority are Drink Now wines – best enjoyed within a year of vintage, lightly chilled, with good friends and food. Perfect summer sipping.
Rosés are versatile food wines, having aspects of both red and white wines.