If there’s one way of sniffing out a wine snob, it’s rosé.
God they hate it.
“It’s not proper wine”. “It’s alcopop for wine wasters”. “It’s shit”.
Yes, quite a broad spread of criticism, I will admit. But it’s a bit like putting ice in your wine to chill it down. It’s always a beacon for the smartarses that think they know everything about wine and the idiots that know nothing. Both look down on it - but they don’t look so happy sipping at their lukewarm white wine do they, so what do they know!!.
Let me be clear about this. Rosé, is a fine and wonderful tipple. Yes, the sweetened, mass produced rubbish is exactly that – rubbish. But then that goes for sweetened mass-produced red and mass-produced white wines to boot. Rubbish is as rubbish tastes.
Properly made rosé, on the other hand, has its place; just as a great drop of red or a stunning tipple of white.
So when you’re buying rosé, what should you look for?
Well, probably best to begin with how rosé is made. Essentially there are three ways to make rosé.
Making great rosé...
The first, and most popular, follows the same method used to produce most red wines. The grapes are pressed, the juice extracted. The principle difference is that there is minimal skin contact. With red wines, the pressed juice is left to ferment with the skins, allowing the intense hues, tannins and flavours in those luscious red skins we all know and love to leach out. With rosé, the pressed juice is given only a few days of contact with the skin, and separated before fermentation starts. Hence only a fraction - a tint if you like - of red colouring is acquired. In other words, rosé!
An alternative method is known as saignee - which lierally means "to bleed" in French. This is where proportions of juice is run off during the making of a red wine. The run-off juice has a rosé tint, whilst the remaining red wine intensifies in flavour, depth and colour. To all intents and purposes this type of rosé is a by-product of producing a red wine. But it doesn’t make the best versions any less valid.
Don't mix your rosé if you can avoid it...
The final method, is simply mixing red with white wine. It’s banned in France, with the exception of the Champagne region - where historically, they are allowed to mix a little red wine in from the Bouzy (nice name) region, to give some of their rosé the right hue. Generally though, it’s only used to produce cheap, cheerful and not always very quality led pinks.
So that’s how it’s made. But again, how do you choose the right one for you?
Well, it really depends on what works best for you. If you like them light in colour, and more delicate in flavour, you probably want to go for something from Provence or the south of France. They tend to be light salmon pink, or as they sometimes call it onion skin, so with a pinky-orange edge to them. The fruit is light too. Delicate raspberry, hints of crushed strawberries with a creamy citrus kick on the finish. Move across to Italy, and you generally get a slightly darker, deeper style of pink. The raspberry flavours are more pronounced and we’re heading towards Ribena territory.
A darker shade of pale...
Move further afield. Over the ocean to the likes of South America, or perhaps as far off as Australia, and those deeper pinks are turning into light ruby’s. Many of the rosés from Chile, Argentina, Australia and New Zealand tend to be fruitier, significantly deeper in colour and even, in some cases, more akin to light reds.
So much depends on what your style is. Do you like subtle, creamy, light versions of rosé, or do you prefer more in your face styles, packed with juicy redcurrants and raspberries? Either way, one thing is sure. Rosé is always a winner when it comes to food – and all year round. It’s the perfect pairing with turkey or goose during the festive season. But it’s also a cracking option for when the sun is beating down and the barbecue is burning up.
So crack open a bottle of pink. And be loud and proud when you do it…in classic Brighton style.