Everything you need to know about rosé wine ! Please, don’t blush !

Let me get this straight. Any serious rosé wine is not a mixture of white wine and red wine. Nay! No, actually, it is first and foremost a wine made from red grapes. The winemaker has to start from a grape used to make red wine and to give it the freshness of a white wine. But then how does it work? Follow me, and because it’s you, I will make a few rosé recommendations  afterwards.

By FrédéricArnould (lefred@toutsurlevin.ca)

Apart from some countries like South Africa and Australia which allow the mixture of red and white wines to make rosé, all countries of the European Union including France, the world’s largest producer and consumer of rosé, stick to the specific wine rosé production. There has been a European movement to change this in 2009, but the « uprising » was nipped in the bud. The only exception is for sparkling wines including Champagne producers who can mix white and red, including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

roséTwo methods

Once the grapes are harvested and crushed,  the winemaker may choose between two ways to produce rosé wine based on the type of rose that he wants to create . Either he will choose the direct pressing method, or he will opt for the bleeding (saignée). In the case of direct pressing, the grapes are pressed, allowing a very short contact between the juice and the skin, which will slightly color the wine. While in the case of bleeding, the winemaker decides to make his rosé as a red wine by macerating the grapes in a vat for 12 to 24 hours. The idea is not to stain the juice too much thanks to the skin of the grape from which it originates. Because it is the skin that gives color, as in the case of red varieties, the pulp is white. (In the case of red wine,  maceration can last for days or even weeks). The rosé juice is then drawn off to in a tank so that it ferments up to two weeks, until the sugars turn into alcohol.

Drink it young and fresh

A rosé wine will rarely get better with time. In fact, it will even lose its color and fruitiness. So, always prefer the most recent vintage. And drink it two years after bottling. As for the serving temperature, it is generally between 8 and 14 degrees.

Some recommendations

In order to drink anything other than industrial rosés that are often too sweet like Barefoot and Gallo of California, here are some examples of well made dry rosé wines for this summer.

rosés1Muga Rosé

You might know my fondness for Spanish wines. Here is a rosé from a house that produces extraordinary red wines. Muga Rosé is a blending of tempranillo, garnacha and Viura, a white grape. Good acidity on the palate, with aromas of strawberry, red fruits and rose petals. Everything is coated with spices. This Muga will do wonders as well with a salad, grilled salmon or seafood. (14- $ 16)

caceresMarques de Caceres Rosé

Another great Spanish winery from the Rioja, Marques de Caceres (also available in red and white)  offers a pretty coral color with red currant aromas, flowers and sweet spices. A safe bet that does not disappoint. (About $ 15)


La Vieille Ferme Rosé

The Perrin estate has in its property portfolio these wines of the « Vieille ferme ». Do not expect an unforgettable masterpiece, and of course, this is not the purpose of this rosé. This is a « pleasure » wine that will reward you with a pretty bouquet of red fruits (strawberries and raspberries). A beautiful blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Syrah grown on the Mont Ventoux and vinified in bleeding. At that price, it would be crazy to miss out, year after year.

Domain Gournier rosé

In the same vein, this rosé produced near Uzes in the Gard, you will have some for your money at $ 13. Obviously, nothing complicated, but this blend of Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon will be able « to cope » with your grilled chicken and vegetables. Strawberries, raspberries and smoked spices.

provencePétale de rose

Head off to the Var in South-West France for a pretty good rosé, produced by a goldsmith in this  field, RégineSumeire. Known also for its Château La Tour de L’Évêque, the Sumeire family offers us a rosé with a very light « onion skin » color with aromas of wild flowers, red fruit and notes of grapefruit. Fresh, balanced, fruity with … yes, let’s be crazy, some garrigue (scrubland)! A long finish. A rosé « Haute couture » at about $ 20-21.

Famille Perrin Tavel

Since we are in high fashion rosé, I would be remiss to ignore once again the Perrin family that produces this Tavel, an appellation of origin which is housed in the towns of Tavel and Roquemaure, in the Gard region. Here too, it smells garrigue and herbs and red fruits. If you are looking for a well built rosé with a refreshing acidity, here you have found a clever blend of Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre. Yes, the « Tavel » are more expensive than average, but worth its price. (About $ 22-23)

quailsQuails Gate rosé

And since I live in a province that is home to great winemakers in the Okanagan Valley, may I suggest a blend of Gamay Noir with a touch of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris. Again, this smells of red fruits, rose, rhubarb and smoked spices. With its acidity that explodes on the palate, this rosé is a good companion for grilled chicken salad. ($ 17)

And you, what is your favorite rosé? Cheers

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