My love affair with rosé has been rocky at best. Once dismissed as pre-night-out fodder (my earliest rosé memories will forever be sullied by the bright-pink white zinfandel they used to relentlessly advertise during Friends repeats), rosé has had a renaissance. What was once considered girlish, and simply a sweet low-alcohol wine to be glugged without impunity as soon as the sun emerged, is now one of the fastest growing wine trends.
Whether you credit the millennials and their obsession with all things Instagrammable and pastel pink, or the realisation that real men can drink rosé – yes, the rosé bro or ‘brosé’ is a thing, according to GQ magazine – the tide has turned when it comes to pink.
I once scoffed at an ad in the early 2000s that featured a gurning woman in a pink dress with the caption: “At last, wine in my shade,” vowing to only drink ‘real’ wine like old-world reds and reputable whites from then on, but UKSA sommelier school has reignited my love for the pink stuff.
For a sommelier, rosé really is a
dream drink. Not only is it sweet enough (and often cheap enough) to blend into fruity, iced cocktails, it has enough variety in body and sugar levels to pair it with almost any food, from sugar-laden desserts and spicy curries to roast meat and even salad.
A rosé outlook
All wine production starts with harvesting, destemming and crushing. You’re left with must (grape juice) and crushed skins, and then white and red wine go their separate ways. Whites are removed from the skins (because skins contain anthocyanins that give colour), while reds and rosés are made by leaving the juice to ferment with the skins. The colour of rosé indicates how long the skins have been left to macerate – just a couple of hours for the palest of pinks and days for the dark, almost ruby rosés of Navarro and Australia.
Rosé isn’t always as low in alcohol as you might assume. Despite its soft peachy tone, Miraval still clocks in at 13% ABV. Go light with our Marlborough rosé at 9.5% ABV, or even lighter with our lower-calorie Sumika at a gentle 8.5% ABV. If you’re the type who likes to save
your wine for a special occasion, it’s worth noting that unlike George Clooney, rosé does not get better with age. Most bottles should be drunk within a year or two of purchase.
Rosé has always been a bit of a show off when it comes to shelf appeal. In fact, you can often spot a Provencal rosé by its bottle shape alone. Here’s a hint: it’ll be the sexiest bottle in the cellar. During the 1930s, Provencal domaines designed their own bottles, and families competed to create the most distinctive shape. Watch out for the few that persist today, like the curves on our Coteaux Varois en Provence.
Pale rosé is the perfect pair for light salads, while a fuller, fruity cabernet from Australia will stand up to barbecue food, all of which leads to the natural conclusion that summer equals rosé. But rosé can be just as complex as a young red or white.
Try a cherry-red Spanish rosé like our Las Falleras with grilled chicken and tapas or charcuterie. Match a 100% barbera Monferrato Chiaretto from northern Italy with meaty fish
and remember that a pinot noir-based rosé is rich and full enough for lamb cooked pink.
As for rosé champagne, basically all I’ve learned in wine school is that we should be drinking more of it. A proper vintage rosé can be sipped with game like pheasant or pigeon, while sweeter demi-sec (medium dry) styles like our opulent Delacourt pair with everything from seafood to strawberry tarts.
If you needed even more encouragement to declare your love of the pink stuff loud and proud, remember you’re not alone – there’s a cohort of celeb makers who’ve all jumped on the rosé bandwagon, from Drew Barrymore with Barrymore Rosé of Pinot Noir, to Francis Ford Coppola’s Sofia Rosé and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s Miraval.
From red and white’s poor cousin to the top of the Hollywood wishlist, rosé is the comeback kid that seems set to stick around – why would you choose anything else this summer and beyond?
Photographer: Nassima Rothacker / Hair and make-up: Lindsey Poole / Props stylist: Wei Tang