One of the most misunderstood wines has to be rosé. Pretty much every wine-producing region on the planet makes rosé and some have been doing so for hundreds of years. But unfortunately, thanks to the 70s, 80s and White Zinfandel, a lot of people still think of rosé as cheap sweet plunk and wouldn’t be caught dead with a glass of pink wine in hand. If this is your case, please allow me the next few paragraphs…
How rosé is made
The colour and tannic structure of wine come from the grape skins. So, rosé can be made from any of the red grape varieties. The longer the juice is in contact with the skins, the darker the wine. It makes sense, right? The two most common ways for making rosé are by direct pressing or limited maceration and saignée (bleeding).
Once the grapes arrive at the winery, they are crushed to burst the skins and then go directly to the wine press to extract the juice. This technique produces a wine that’s very light in colour due to the skins staying in contact with the juice for only a very short period of time.Limited maceration and saignée
The grapes are stacked in a tank where they “self crush” (I think I just invented a winemaking term) under their own weight. The juice is left in contact with the skins, again for a short period of time (2 – 20 hours), until the winemaker gets the desired colour. The juice is then separated from the skins by bleeding it off to a second tank for fermentation. In some cases, only some of the juice will be bled off to a second tank to allow the winemaker to get more concentration, for a red wine, with the juice left in the first tank.
Where rosé is made
As I mentioned earlier, most wine regions in the world make rosé. It’s made in many different styles, shades of pink and flavour profiles. Here are a few cool spots you should look for:
- Provence, France. Some say if it’s not from Provence, it’s not rosé. The grape varieties of choice in Provence rosé are usually Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Mourvèdre.
- Southern Rhône Valley, France. Remember this… Tavel, a Rhône Valley appellation that only produces rosé. Here, Grenache is usually the base for rosé but Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Carignan are also very common blending partners.
- Spain. Great value Spanish rosés are available here in B.C.. Garnacha (Grenache), Tempranillo and Monastrell (Mourvèdre) are the usual suspects.
- British Columbia. Some delicious examples of rosé are made right here in our backyard. In fact, there are a lot of options to choose from. Pinot Noir, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, etc… Pretty much every red grape variety under the sun is fair game here. Some of my personal favourites are usually made from Pinot Noir.
Rosé is of course a great partner for sunny afternoons with friends on the patio. But it can be much more than that. Great rosés make for great pairings all year round. The following are a few tasty picks to get your rosé party started:
Miraval – Jolie Pitt & Perrin, Côtes de Provence, France
Yup, that’s Brangelina’s wine, but the magic name here is Perrin; the family behind the world-renowned Château de Beaucastel. Typical Provence pale pink colour, elegant with soft floral notes. It’s fresh, citrusy with beautiful minerality. Grilled herb chicken or seared tuna would do it justice. $38.50 at Nesters Liquor Store
Muga Rosado, Rioja, Spain
Light, simple and just plain delicious. Wild strawberries, orange zest and a hint of minerality make this a winner with Calamari à la plancha and summer salads. Get your rosado on for just under $20 at Nesters Liquor Store
Domaine Lafond Roc-Epine, Tavel, France
I’m a huge fan of Tavel, the dark horse of french rosés. Darker in colour than the Provence-style rosés, Roc-Epine is bright, round, spicy and tastes like Christmas! Think Bouillabaisse but also save a bottle for Thanksgiving. $24.99 at Marketplace and Creekside BC Liquor Stores
Seven Directions, Canyonview Vineyard, Pinot Noir Rosé, B.C.
The new kid on the block, Seven Directions, is BC’s only exclusive Rosé house. Juicy with notes of rose petals, strawberries and a hint of spice. Give it a go with grilled salmon with lemon on a cedar plank. Mid $30s at Nesters and Blackcomb Liquor Stores
As a side note, I’ve done years of “scientific” research on rosé, and found out that regions where rosé is consumed on a regular basis, get in average 50% more sunny days than other regions. So what are you waiting for? We need all the help we can get these days. Just sayin’.
Life is short. Drink good rosé.