A quick guide to Rosé wines

Posted on: 6th March, 2014

Category: The Wine Buff

Contributor: Tony Eklof

Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.

Of course rosé wines are best in the late Spring and Summer, but in the midst of these winter storms isn’t it nice to think of those seasons and the wine that goes so well with picnics and barbecues?

Rosé is one of the oldest types of wine. It is normally made by allowing the skins of the grapes to stay in contact with the juice for a shorter period of time than would be the case for red wine.

It is a misconception that rosés are just a mix of red and white wine.

Rosé is made from different varietals such as Syrah, Grenache, Tempranillo, Cabernet or Zinfandel.

The popularity of rosé took off with the success of two Portuguese wines, Mateus and Lancers.

Rosé is a versatile wine when it comes to matching with food such as fish or Asian cuisine. It is also great as a pre-dinner drink or a party wine.

Rosé can vary from sweet to dry, depending on the grape variety and the growing area. Rosé d’Anjou from the Loire region and made from the Groslot grape is very sweet, although Cabernet d’Anjou is less so.

In Italy rosé is labelled as rosato or chiaretto, while in Spain or Portugal look out for rosado.

In the 1970s, ‘blush wine’ became all the rage. These are light rosés generally either made from Grenache or Zinfandel grapes, the latter also associated with big powerful reds from California. While there are many cheap and easy-drinking blush wines available here from big wineries such as Gallo, Blossom Hill or Sutter Home, it is more difficult to source quality examples.

Classier, drier, and fuller-bodied rosés have emerged from France, Spain, Italy, and New Zealand in recent years. Keep an eye out for Bordeaux Rosé or wines from Provence in the south of France. These are often very classy and unfortunately a bit pricier! Tavel, in the Rhone Valley near where Chateauneuf de Pape comes from, is the source of some of the best roses in the world.

Finally, a hobby-horse of mine — like white wine or even beer, rosé is best enjoyed lightly chilled, just an hour in the fridge will allow the full strawberries and cream flavour to come through.

Wine Suggestions:

Maison Vialade, Syrah Rosé, Super Valu, €10.49.
Light, dry rosé from the Aude region of Southern France.

Chateau Bauduc, Bordeaux Rosé, Curious Wines, Cork, €15.99.
Very classy dry rosé made from the classic Bordeaux combination of Merlot and Cabernet.

Lettercollum Food Project in Clonakilty stock a lovely off-dry organic rosé ‘Vin des pays’ from the south of France for €10.30.

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