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Learn about rosé wine — the range of styles, how it’s made and more …
What is rosé wine?
Rosé wine has surged in popularity, but what exactly is it? First, it is a category of wine, not a grape varietyal. Rosé is a pink-colored wine that is made from red grapes. It can be dry or sweet.
What are the types and styles of rosé wine?
Whether it’s fruity and fun or savory and serious, rosé is a pink wine that comes in countless styles. Rosé wine is produced throughout the world from a vast array of local grape varieties and is enjoying a surging popularity among wine drinkers. Southern France (particularly Provence), parts of Spain, Italy and California are among the most famous regions for rosé wine production.
These are the four major types rose wines.
- Light: Pale pink in color and light-bodied, these are dry and crisp, exhibiting flavors of citrus, strawberry and watermelon, plus a saline minerality.
- Medium: A little darker, sometimes orangesalmon in color and a bit fuller in body. Flavors include cherry and raspberry, with floral and spice notes.
- Fuller, richer: Darker both in the glass and on the palate, with rich berry flavors and often hints of pepper.
- Sweet: The sweetness is achieved when fermentation is stopped before all sugar has been converted. These often have the word “white” in front of the grape from which they are made, e.g., White Zinfandel or White Merlot.
Where is rosé from?
- Rosé is made all over the world. Besides France, important sources include Italy, Spain and California. Different names include rosato in Italy, rosado in Spain and weissherbst in Germany. Rosé has been around for a very long time. The Phoenicians drank pink wine as far back as 1500 B.C.
- Old World vs. New World rosé - As compared to white and red wines, the differences between Old World and New World rosés can be subtle. In a blind tasting, for example, a dark Spanish rosado might easily be confused with a ripe California version. That said, the epicenter of world rosé production is Provence in the South of France, which makes more rosé than any other region.
What gives rosé its color?
Two factors influence a rosé’s color, the grape variety(ies) used, and the length of time the red grape skins stay in contact with the juice. The resulting color ranges from pale pink, to salmon, copper or light ruby or bold fuschia.
How is rosé wine made?
Rosé wine is made using just a brief period of skin contact with red-skinned grapes—usually just a few hours to a couple of days. Rosés often are produced with no lees stirring, no malolactic fermentation and no oak aging. Fermented at cool temperatures in stainless steel to preserve the primary aromas and flavors, most rosé wine is intended for consumption in its youth.
These are the most common ways rose wine is made:
- Vin Gris: An absence of or a very limited maceration (skin-contact) time, typically using light colored red varieties, creates a vin gris. The juice is pressed off the skins for fermentation to continue to dryness. Vin gris translates from French to literally means “gray wine,” but the wine is by no means, grey.
- Direct Press: The Provence method. Here the grapes are crushed and pressed simultaneously, with a short maceration time, which results in a very pale pink.
- Saignée: A secondary effect of red winemaking. Red grapes are crushed and placed in a tank. After a short period of time, some of the relatively pale juice is allowed to bleed off (saignée means “bleeding” in French). This method both produces a rosé and concentrates the remaining red.
- Blending red and white wine: This method is not permitted in typical rosé production but is used frequently when making blush wines or rosé versions of Champagne and other sparkling wines.
In southern France, rosés are often blends that may include Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre and Syrah. Single varietal versions are also plentiful. Rosé of Pinot Noir hails from places as disparate as France’s Loire Valley, Oregon, California and New Zealand.
Rosé tasting profile
While differences exist between dry rosés, noteworthy similarities include a crisp, clear quality and light to medium body. They are not high in alcohol and rarely show oak influence. Fruit flavors often include citrus, strawberry, raspberry, cherry and watermelon while other notes include floral, spice and mineral. These characteristics make rosé a delightful aperitif and flexible with food, which certainly explains its popularity.
How do you serve rosé wine?
For serving, cool rosé wines down to about 45 to 50F. (Most refrigerators are colder than this.)
Glassware for rosé
The best glasses for rosé have a stem and a narrow bowl large enough to allow swirling without spilling. As with any wine, do not fill the glass all the way to the rim.
Rosé food pairings
- Light rosé: Terrific with salads, shellfish and lighter appetizers.
- Medium rosé: Enjoy with everything from chicken to pork and creamy cheeses.
- Fuller, richer rosé: Great with pizza, barbecue and burgers.
- Sweet rosé: Pairs well with spicier foods or on its own.
How long does rosé wine last?
Opened, a bottle of rosé wine will usually stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. Unopened, most rosé wines stay fresh for a year or two, though in rare cases, high end rosé wines can benefit from a few years of age. If you are planning to invest in rosé wine to save for a few years, it’s probably a good idea to consult one of our wine experts.