It’s not quite red and it’s not white either. Rosé is the perfect in-betweener that’s fast-growing in popularity in the UK and all across Europe. The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) reported that rosé sales increased by 22% in 2020, with over 113 million bottles flying off the shelves.
Traditional wisdom might tell you that rosé is only a summer wine, but newer viticulturists and oenologists argue that it’s a wine you can enjoy in all seasons. Even Julia Child said that rosé “can be served with anything”.
If you want to enjoy rosé all year round, you can—you just need to know how.
The Lowdown On Rosé
A combination of red grape varieties, rosé hits all the fruitier and more saccharine notes. Made by limiting the contact time of the red grapes before the wine gets too dark and heavy, rosé is ideal for serving year-round, but how you do so depends on the shade and taste notes.
Traditionally a wine of the Provence region, rosé pairs well with a variety of foods but it tends to fall into the same category as wines on the whiter and lighter side. It goes well with grilled vegetables, chicken, rare lamb, seafood, particularly salmon, and soft cheeses. Bolder rosé vintages are best enjoyed alongside grilled meats and sparkling rosés with charcuterie cuts.
As rosé is growing in popularity, wine connoisseurs are spoiled for choice. There are so many different varieties that you could try a new bottle every day of the month! However, when you’re reading the labels on the bottle, the choice can be overwhelming.
But fear not.
From Pinot Noir to Grenache to Syrah to Sangiovese, keep reading to learn how to pair your rosé with the right meal and the right season.
Fruity Rosés For Summer
According to conventional wine wisdom, rosé’s fruity notes make it a summer wine. Provence rosés like Grenache, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir are the top fruity wines for sipping in the sunshine. That hallowed arbiter of good taste, the BBC, has pronounced it “the drink of the summer”, and The Guardian has followed suit. Nothing tastes like sunny European holidays like semi-sweet Roz Votsalo made from the Grenache rouge grape.
The rosé -gold and salmon pink hues that characterize ideal Provence and Pinot Noir vintages are no longer indicators of quality. So, like the old saying about books goes, don’t judge a vintage by its color.
Floral Rosés For Spring
It wouldn’t be spring without flowers or floral notes in your glass. Mourvèdre wines, noticeable by their pale hues, are the bottles to grab off the shelf in springtime. These wines range in flavor profile from fruity to herbal.
Lighter rosés such as Pinot Noir and Zinfandel blends are usually produced using the maceration process where the tannins, colouring, and flavouring elements get leached out of the grapes through immersion in water. The longer the maceration process, the redder the wine.
Many rosé wines are bog-standard red grapes that have undergone an incomplete maceration. Some varieties are left to stand in water for a day, and some for as little as a few hours. This extremely brief maceration period is sometimes known as the Van Gris Method.
Savoury Rosés For Winter
Why restrict your love of rosé to four months of the year? Despite its summery reputation, rosé can be perfectly suitable for wining and dining all year round. The bolder, heavier American Syrah grapes or those of Côtes du Rhône hit the right notes in the colder months and they pair surprisingly well with red meats, root vegetable soups and stews.
Drinking rosé in winter is a unique experience. Rosés are generally consumed within the year harvested, and as we’ve already noted, are usually enjoyed in the warmer months. Rosé that’s allowed to sit for a few additional months will have a deeper, warmer taste profile that’s highly complementary to the heartier meals of winter. Zelos Rosé’s rich flavour and complex strawberry and spice aromas is an excellent option for pairing with winter dishes and will warm up even the chilliest of evenings.
Savoury rosés are often produced using the Saignée method, which uses the by-products of traditional red wine production. These rosés are made with excess red wine that doesn’t have as much grape-skin contact as the rest of the batch. The excess, or run-off, is then distilled into rosé blends such as Syrah. The wines are full of flavour and have a higher percentage of Resveratrol than their white counterparts, so they’re certainly not lacking in anything.
Sweet Rosés For Autumn
Wine connoisseurs never label a rosé as ‘sweet’, but the classic off-dry taste is the perfect complement to the autumn chill. Slightly sweeter rosé is ideal for sipping on as the weather turns as it will remind you of warmer days and pair well with heavier meals too.
Most of the off-dry rosé varieties use Zinfandel grapes as a base, often with hints of berries and melons. This adds that characteristic sweetness while still retaining the crisp fruitiness. Monoceros Douraki Rose perfectly hits those strawberry notes and is a sublime light, dry wine that’s easy drinking.
A Rich Rosé History
The history of rosé is intriguing. The earliest records of pink wine date back to 3500 BC and the ancient civilisations of Phoenicia, Macedonia, and Sparta. However, this pink-hued wine was not the rosé we know today. Rather, it was red wine diluted with water.
The lighter colour was due partly to the Ancient Greeks’ belief that pure wine made you mad, and the fact that the drinking water was of such poor quality that diluting it made it drinkable. This watered-down wine became so popular that the Roman Legionnaires drank it when going into battle as it kept them hydrated.
Rosé All The Way
Rosé as we know it first came about in the 6th century BC when Greek sailors took white and red grapes to Massalia, the area now known as the French Riviera. These white and red grapes were blended to make a lighter pink wine that was ideal for the warm climate. When the Romans arrived, they learnt of the pink wine made in Massalia and used their trade networks to supply the drink to the rest of the Mediterranean. To this day, the south of France remains the true origin point of rosé.
Over the centuries, rosé has had its ups and downs, and at times it fell out of favour due to poor quality and the misconception that it wasn’t a “real” wine.
However, at the start of the 19th century when the trend of producing paler wines using the reduced maceration method eventually reached California, perceptions of rosé changed. As the wine’s popularity increased, demand outstripped production and rosé was finally recognised for what it is — a real wine.
In 1970, a Sonoma Valley vintner released a vintage using the Saignee method and modern rosé was born. The rest, as they say, is history. We’ll drink to that!