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Rosé Wines


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About Rosé Wines

Background

To understand rosé wines (sometimes called vin gris, rosado, or rosato), one needs to understand basic wine-making. The color of a wine does not (with a few exceptions—the so-called teinturier grapes) come from the flesh of grapes but from the skin. Red wines are made with significant exposure to the grape skins, which contain substances known as anthocyanins that give the wines their color; in making white wines, there is little or no skin contact in the winemaking process.

Rosé wines can be made by any of four methods: bleeding (usually called saignée), pressing, limited maceration, and run-off. Those are well described on the useful Wine Vibe web site, and we here quote them:

Note that not everyone agrees that the saignée method “is used to make the best-quality roses”, because the bleeding process essentially involves making rosé as a by-product of red-wine fermentation—sort of as an afterthought. Those of that opinion highly favor rosés made by the press (or “maceration”) method. One commenter remarked that “Saigne wines are heavier and not as refreshing. Since they are come from grapes that are picked later, they often need a lot of manipulation to change the chemistry (lower the alcohol, lower the pH and raise the acid)”; another observed that “The main difference is that skin-contact Rose is made with grapes that have been grown and harvested at optimal levels to make a Rose. Saignee Rosés are made from grapes that have fully ripened and which are destined to make a red wine, thus the whole reason of Saignee is to concentrate red-wines. The resulting Rose lacks acid and brightness and further manipulation is needed to correct and make it drinkable (ie: adding tartaric acid).” But as yet another commenter observed, “At the end of the day, what really matters is whether or not you’d open a second bottle.”

“Rosé” being a category as broad as “red” or “white”, one finds all sorts of different rosé wines. At the risk of painting with too broad a brush, we can roughly divide them—with no bright-line separation—into the categories “crisp and dry” and “rich and fruity” (as does, for one, Wine Searcher). There can be no general rating, in the sense of one of those types being “better” than the other, because it is very much a matter of personal taste. To try to find a rosé that one prefers is just like trying to find the one red wine one prefers: a futile endeavor.

As with any wine, the grape varieties used greatly influence the aromas and flavors of rosé wines, but the wine-making method also has a big influence. Without getting too technical, the wines tend to end up with much less of the depth of red wines, but with more of the fresh-fruit quality of whites. This special character of rosés is what makes them desireable for some uses, especially as accompaniments to foods that do not seem clearly “red-wine” or “white-wine” dishes (such as, for example, a cream sauce lightly flavored with tomato).

For a long time in the modern era, rosés were to a large extent snooted, regarded as a somehow lesser bastard stuff, almost as if it were just a mix of cheap red and white wines (which, sad to say, in a few cases it really was). The advent of garbage wines like “White Zinfandel” (someone’s bright idea of what to do with the then-great excess of Zinfandel grapes) did a lot to poison the well. Nowadays, though, with wine appreciation back in fashion, rosés are being savored for the unique and delightful things that they are in their own right. Still, many wine drinkers do not turn to rosés as often as they might, and that is a shame. To find rosés that fit one’s personal tastes will take a fair bit of sampling of specimens—so get started! (But do understand that “blush wines” are something to be avoided.)

(Note that almost without exception rosé wines deteriorate quite rapidly once bottled, and so should be drunk as soon after bottling as possible. Beware older vintages of rosé wines, though Spanish Rioja rosados are one of those exceptions.)

We will not try here to re-invent the wheel. Wikipedia has a very extensive categorization of the many national and regional styles of rosés, and we recommend it to you.

Factoid: Besides the common maceration technique for producing rosés, there is another way that involves the immediate pressing of red-skinned grapes without any maceration time; that yields wines called vin gris. (Despite that name, the resulting juice is not actually grey, but rather a very pale pink usually much lighter than traditionally made rosés.)

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Some Descriptions of Rosé Wines Wines

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Some Rosé Winess to Try

(About this list.)

The list below includes a spread of sources: Provence, the Loire Valley, Italy, Austria, and California—well illustrating the various styles of rosés available these days.


Tiberio Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo
(Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC, Italy; Montepulciano grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



“By.Ott” Rosé
(Côtes de Provence AOC, France; Cinsault, Grenache, & Syrah grapes.
Do not confuse this with their much pricier Bandol bottling.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Rodney Strong Rosé
(Russian River Valley AVA, U.S.A.; Pinot Noir grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Schlosskellerei Gobelsburg “Gobelsburger Cistercien” Rosé
(Niederosterreich wine region, Austria; typically Zweigelt & St. Laurent grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Olga Raffault Rosé
(Chinon AOC, France; Cabernet Franc grapes.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

We could find no reasonably available Rosé Wines wines better enough than those listed above as to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Tuesday, 24 March 2020, at 5:19 pm Pacific Time.