Sipping a glass of chilled rosé wine has become an enjoyable way to pass a summer’s evening alfresco, but for a few years, it wouldn’t even have been a last choice. A bit of a cliché at one time, its name and colour associated with a naturally-sparkling Portuguese variety in a prettily-shaped bottle (and lamp-base), it went out of fashion as our wine-drinking tastes grew more discerning. However, those who remember it will say that it was a very pleasant cliché and thankfully, a new generation without the baggage of past trends has realised that.
Millennials picked up on this easy-drinking tipple, displaying its warm tones to advantage on social media, aided by some of the cute bottles still out there. The number of types now available has increased its versatility, with its return from seventies-obscurity probably helped by the rise in popularity of Californian wines which offer ideal conditions for the grapes used. Drinkers are discovering more sophisticated alternatives, including many from Europe and the new world in varying egress of sweetness and strength.
The old-world versions tend to be drier than the rest, although producers elsewhere are catching up. Like red wine, rosé is generally made from a black grape, but the skins are removed from the process much more quickly, to minimise the presence of tannin so appreciated by lovers of Chianti and its like. The sweeter varieties are perfect for an evening drink, while the dry ones go better with food because flavours don’t compete. All of them will help to combat salty food by cooling and cleaning the palate.
Sparkling rosé or pink champagne is the exception here, with its mixture of red and white wine. The French region of Champagne is the only place to officially blend the two colours, combining Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, but this method is similar to that employed for all sparkling pinks, perhaps limited to two of the three mentioned above.
With all this interest, it seems that rosé wine is being taken seriously at last. Premium examples now attract wine buffs, which has led to an increase in the number of wineries showing an interest, and in the countries wanting to develop their own distinctive take on it. Shoppers and punters can now browse a wide range, from fairly-sweet to dry (such as batches dominated by the Pinot Grigio grape), and from budget to experts’ recommendations with higher price tags. Luckily, its reputation is as light as its flavour, making it an easy choice with the relief of no snobbery attached, but nowadays, eliciting genuine admiration.
Drink your rosé wine in a short, lightly-tapered bowl on a stem with a slightly-flared lip. Or as the fermentation process is similar to that for whites, you might prefer to plump for what you use for your Chardonnay. It really is up to you how you drink this unpretentious wine, and when – although it may be what you naturally yearn for in hot weather, its warm shades of pink and blush also make it ideally suited for a night by the fire in winter!