Rosé wine is the perfect summer sipper and has become extremely popular across North America in recent years. But did you know it’s probably the oldest type of wine?
There are a number of different methods used to make rosé, but the oldest way is to simply leave the grape skins, seeds, and stems (called grape must) in with the raw grape juice, then take them out earlier than you would with red wine. The longer the grape must remain in contact with the wine, the darker the final product.
There are a number of different styles of wine that fall under the umbrella of ‘rosé’. Depending on where they’re grown, and how they’re made, the taste of the final product varies widely. Rosé can taste light, floral, and fruity, or crisp and dry with aromas of rhubarb and lemon.
This rosé wine guide will introduce you to the world of rosé wine and give a brief overview of its history, as well as the most popular varietals available today.
Rosé Wine: How It Is Made
There are a number of different methods used to make rosé wine. Each region traditionally has a preferred method. The oldest method out there is the maceration method, where grape must (skin, seeds, stems, etc) is left in with the grape juice for a short period of time, then removed to create a light pink wine. This is the easiest and most flavorful way to create a rosé wine.
Another method which isn’t as popular but remains quite traditional in some regions is the saignée method. Winemakers ‘bleed’ a small percentage of the liquid out of a vat of grape must and juice. The separated liquid is allowed to ferment into rosé on its own, while the original vat becomes a deeply concentrated red wine.
Some vintners do make rosé by mixing a small percentage of red wine into white wine. This blending method is actually forbidden for wines that come from certain wine-making areas in Europe. However, it remains a popular method for creating specific types of wine, like sparkling rosés.
The Different Styles of Rosé Wine
There are many unique styles of rosé wine with flavours that range from earthy and oaky to fruity and floral. Depending on your taste, one method or region may produce a rosé that you favour above all others. Try a few out, and see which is your favourite.
Full Bodied (Tavel Style)
There are several types of full-bodied rosés available, but none exemplify this flavour profile better than the Tavel-style rosé from the Côtes du Rhône. This robust, high-alcohol wine is typically light watermelon pink and offers aromas of ripe fruit, nuts, and orange. Don’t let the pale pink colour fool you- this is one of the most robust rosés out there.
Light-Bodied (Provencal Style)
Looking for a delicate summer sipper? The Provencal style of rosé is fruity, with aromas of strawberry and watermelon, finished with a fresh minerality that perks up the palate. It’s extremely light in colour but has its own bright and refreshing flavour. Around half of the wine produced in Provence are rosés.
Sweet (White Zinfandel Style)
The creation of White Zinfandel wine was a happy accident. In the 1970s, vintners in California bled off a few hundred gallons of juice from a vat of pre-fermentation red wine. They bottled the resulting dry, sweet rosé wine and called it White Zinfandel. This uniquely American wine is sweet and is often blended together in-house to ensure consistency.
Rosé Wine Pairing Opportunities: Choose the Perfect Match
Depending on which type of rosé you choose, there’s a perfect rosé wine pairing for any food imaginable. The possibilities are endless. Try a light dry wine from the Loire Valley like the Cuvee Marie Justine Rosé 2018 with salad or sushi.
A medium-bodied rosé like the Montepulciano Azzoni Rosato 2018 would be great at a summer barbeque, where it pairs well with roasted beef or pork, as well as hearty vegetables like roasted mushrooms, beans, and beets.
At Small Winemakers, we carry a variety of rosés perfect for any occasion and love to support small and family-owned wineries. We can have a case of the perfect rosé to your door just in time for your next party.