Rosé season is upon us and that means the proliferation of pink Instagrams and rhyming hashtags are soon to follow. And what’s not to love? Rosé is the perfect chilled and chill al fresco summer wine. It pairs well with a myriad of foods thanks to its structure and acidity. Not to mention, it’s gorgeous.
However, with the growing popularity of rosé has come the flood of styles, varieties and, as with anything, varied quality. How to navigate this prolific pink wave? Let’s look at the fundamentals of rosé, and of course, where to find the good stuff.
How is rosé made?
We’ve heard many theories over the years. Do they combine red and white wine? Do they use pink grapes? Is it made by the same people who came up with Millennial pink? The real answer is that rosé starts off like any other red wine. The red wine varieties Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah are popularly used for rosé. The main difference is the length of time the crushed red grape skins are left in contact with the white juice. Nearly all juice pressed from grapes comes out white at first. Depending on the style and color the winemaker is going for, the wine soaks for a matter of hours up to a couple of days. This is in comparison to red wine, which can soak for up to 100 days.
There are a few other less common methodologies including Saignée or the Bled method. This offers an opportunity for the winery to intensify their red wines by bleeding off the juice from a vat of red wine. The resulting product is a lovely rosé that is also usually in short supply. This is the kind of wine you typically wouldn’t find without visiting the winery. Lastly, in some instances there are sparkling rosés where - yes - red wine is literally added to white to make it pink.
Okay, so what is a “dry” style? Is it full of sand?
In the wine world dry means not sweet. (Unless you’re talking about “off-dry” or “extra dry” which actually means it is a little sweet. Freaky, right?) This distinction is especially important because historically pink wine in the United States referred to White Zinfandel. Yes, White Zinfandel. The inexpensive blush in a box that strangely attracts both Grandmas and Sorority Girls alike. While White Zinfandel is rosé it is not the aforementioned dry-style that has brought rosé roaring back into popularity.
The dry style was actually born of the Provence region in Southern France. This dry style of high acid pink wines is the way the French have always made their rosé. Imagine, the Provencal winemakers in the sunny, lavender perfumed hills just above the lapping Mediterranean waiting centuries for us to catch on. It was their best kept secret…until now.
Got it, is it just for sipping casually?
Here’s the important part, like all other wine there is a wide range of quality in production. If you’re sitting poolside and want to pour yourself a cold glass of something easy there are plenty of options out there for you. However, if you want to learn more about the category and try the ultimate expression you have to seek out some really special bottles.
We like to go to the OG-rosé craftsmen at the estate of Domaines Ott. You know those beautiful tall fluted bottles you see rosé in these days? Yea, they started that trend. Their estates look out over the Mediterranean Sea as they have for the last 120 years. The Clos Mireille property from Domaines Ott is a bright beautiful pastel colored wine that bursts with melon, lemon and fresh citrus aromas. What we’re saying is, it’s really, really good rosé for a really special occasion.
With wines of this quality and caliber there’s no reason why rosé can’t be saved for a celebratory moment. Whether it’s white, sparkling, red or rosé, there’s always someone out there making the best version that makes an important moment that much more memorable. Find yourself an exceptional bottle of rosé to enjoy this summer and upgrade your glass!
Why Your Rosé Needs an Upgrade