Red and white wines seem to be the centre of attention not only at wine-shows, but within the comfort of your home and amongst friends as well. There are occasions where we'll bring out the good old sparkling no matter the colour, but have we forgotten all about rosés? Is there anything wrong with pink wine? The answer is no. Nothing wrong at all. In fact, wines started off being pink in colour as earlier reds were closer in appearance to rosés due to the winemaking techniques used back then versus today.
The biggest advantage of rosés over any reds or whites is actually their quality to price ratio. You can get a premium quality rosé for a retail price of under $15 a bottle at any given time. It’s also important to note here that there are no cellared versions of pink wine, because they’re recommended for consumption within a year or two of their vintage.
Sadly, at many of our online retail stores, rosés aren't assigned their own category and are instead often misplaced under red wine varieties. Both First Choice Liquor and Vintage Cellars were kind enough to create a category, called “Think Pink” - listing 20 some rosé wines mainly from Australia.
However, if you want an introduction to Australian rosés, I would recommend that you to try the Rosé Mix at Cellarmasters. This case of a dozen includes a good selection of 2014 vintages - all brightly coloured, fresh and crisp examples of locally produced, quality rosés for $131.88 ($11 a bottle). This weekend, you’ll actually get an extra 13% off the price and free shipping at Cellarmasters using their voucher code.
Contrary to urban legends, rosé is not made by mixing reds with whites - this method of “blending” is actually discouraged or even forbidden in many countries, including France. Rosés can be made out of any wine grape variety, producing dry or sweet styles with a wide range of pink shades depending not only on the grape itself, but the method as well. In fact, 99% of all varietals give a clear, greyish grape juice from its flesh on its own.
Most commonly, when producing rosé, red skinned grapes are crushed and the juice is left in contact with the skin for a short period of time. This typically takes place over one to three days - the longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the colour of the final wine. The must is then pressed and the skins are disregarded before the fermentation process. Interestingly, several studies have shown that the colour influences consumers perceptions about the wine and on visual inspections they tend to prefer the darker rosés. However, in blind taste tests (where colour could not be seen), lighter-coloured rosés were more favourable.
To produce lighter coloured rosés, the juice is obtained by stacking up the wine grapes in a tank and letting the grapes’ weight do the crushing. This way the juice is in contact with the grape skins only for a very short time, producing light coloured, fruity and fresh rosés. Sometimes though, rosé can be a by-product of making reds. When winemakers want to add extra intensity to the red wine, they remove some juice to concentrate the must in the fermentation tank. The juice is fermented separately which then becomes rosé wine.
Besides the colour, the flavour is another important criteria when it comes to choosing a bottle of rosé. Based on the production method, it’s safe to assume that most rosés will depict a more subtle palate version of their red wine varietal counterparts. The majority of rosé wines are made form red grape varieties such as Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Grenache, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, etc. - typically a combination of the ones prominent in the region of production. The aromas and flavours of rosés are therefore influenced as much by the varietal as the region of origin.
Australian rosé for example is a ruby coloured, rich, ripe and usually off-dry wine typically made from Pinot Noir, Shiraz and/or Grenache. Meanwhile other new world rosés are often more sweet, such as the candy-like Zinfandel varieties from California. The newer the better is a golden rule for pink wines, but sweeter variations can actually last longer due to their sugar content. The 2011 white Zinfandel by the Gallo Family is a classic example from the States selling for $7.99 a bottle at Dan Murphy’s.
European varieties seem to be more dry, just like their reds with distinctive notes of herbs and spices. Classic French rosés are actually a light-coloured version of the GSM (Grenache - Shiraz - Mourvèdre), often blended with even more varieties such as Cinsault and Cabernet Sauvignon. Provence, home of the traditional rosé offers a selection of very light pink, often salmon coloured wines. These are fresh, fruity and floral, displaying aromas of strawberry, rose petal and have a clean palate with a dry and mineral finish. Unfortunately, I could not find a wide selection of rosés from Provence at online retailers, although I have checked quite a few places. WineMarket comes to the rescue of my deal hunting with this superb value deal on the 2013 La Tourelle de Pigoudet Provence Rosé, which is priced at just $12 a bottle. It’s a steal compared to Myer’s price tag of $20 a bottle, not to mention its characteristics. Aromas are fresh and complex with red fruit, blossom and notes of peach, meanwhile on the palate the fruity flavours intensify, making this classic Provence pink a perfectly balanced old world rosé.
But France isn’t the only European country which produces superb quality pinks, you should definitely try some Italian or Spanish varieties as well. After last week’s Weekend Warrior Wine Deals post on Spanish wines, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that their “rosados” are mainly made from Tempranillo. This makes the Spanish rosé a complex, bright and fruity wine with notes of green peppers. Probably because Spanish wines just started to pop up on the map of the world wide web of wine, it isn’t easy to find a rosado here in Australia. If you do, imho they seem to be fairly overpriced, such as the 2014 Lovers Not Toreadors from one of Spain’s most famous regions, Ribera del Duero priced at $16.99 a bottle. Based on the label it’s clearly made for export…
There's no reason to be ashamed of liking rosé, you’re actually a savvy saver who knows how to get quality quaff, which by the way can be paired with any type of food. It is brilliant on its own at any time of the year, but alternatively you can also use it to make cocktails with.