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The Essential Guide to Rosé: An Underrated Wine Style to Know and Love

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Whether you’re a beginner or connoisseur, we have a simple guide to learning more about Rosé and how to choose the right bottle for you.

Rosé is not as popular as red or white wine but shares traits with both. Rosé is versatile and easy to drink but can also be contemplative. With a wide range of styles, rosé is an interesting category to explore. Learning more about it is an easy way to add variety to your wine rotation and complement your cellar. Rosé is one of those wine styles that every wine lover should know about.

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Origin of Rosé wine

Rosé wine is ancient. It has been produced for thousands of years and is probably one of the earliest styles developed. In the early days, grape growers indiscriminately harvested and crushed red and white grapes, and they’d vinify them together. The result was most probably a pinkish wine.

Some of the most popular red wines today could have been considered dark rosé in the old days. For example, Bordeaux wine was (and still is) called claret for its pale color.

Although we don’t know much about the origins of rosé as a style, we know it predates heavily extracted red wines.

What gives Rosé its color?

Red grapes are the common denominator in all rosé wines. The dark fruit has water-soluble pigments that taint the grape juice as soon as you crush the grapes. You’ll get a darker color if you let them steep or macerate for extended periods. Most rosé wines are produced with the maceration method.

What is the Saignée method?

Unlike rosé wine made by maceration, saignée rosé is a by-product of red wine production. To make concentrated red wines, producers might choose to reduce the ratio between grape skins and grape juice, bleeding out some of the liquid. That discarded pink juice can be bottled as rosé. Learn more about what gives the wine its color here.

What makes a good Rosé wine?

There aren’t good or bad wines, only wines for different occasions. Inexpensive rosé can be charming but rarely as complex on the nose as finer rosé. What makes rosé good is the diligence in the vineyard and cellar. Rosé shouldn’t be oxidized or unbalanced. So, a good rosé is a rosé made with quality in mind.
Rosé’s personality, taste and complexity often revolve around red and black fruit aromas, sometimes mingling with hints of flowers, herbs or spices. On the palate, rosé should always be refreshingly tart. However, its sweetness can vary from bone dry to lusciously sweet.

Rosé wine Infographic

Styles of Rosé wine

Rosé wines vary in color and complexity, often reflecting their terroir and the winemaker’s intentions. However, there are different rosé styles, and they’re all worth exploring.

Dry Rosé

Dry rosé is immensely popular for its versatility at the table. It offers the same thirst-quenching acidity in dry white wine, but extra aromatics reminiscent of red wine. Dry rosé contains as little as 0-3 grams of sugar per litter, and some of the most sought-after rosé wines fall into this category.

Sweet and Semi-Sweet Rosé

Sweet and semi-sweet wines, with as little as 3-5 grams and up to 12-15 grams of sugar per litter, are top-rated. The sweetness makes wine more approachable, especially for those just getting started in the world of wine.

Semi-sweet rosés, such as the Californian White Zinfandel, the French Rosé d’Anjou and the ubiquitous Pink Moscato, are among the best-selling rosé wines today.

Sparking Rosé

Sparkling rosé is a trendy style, as it has the best of two categories, rosé and sparkling wine. Sparkling rosé varies depending on its source but is also available at various sweetness levels. Interestingly, sparkling rosé production allows the blending of red and white wines — this results in incredibly balanced wines .

Fortified Rosé

Fortified rosé might not be as common as other rosé categories, but it represents some of the finest wines for particular styles, such as Port. Port producers, behind the famous Portuguese fortified wine known for its high alcohol strength and luscious sweetness, experimented with rosé versions as early as 2008. These wines are extraordinary after-dinner drinks.

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The Best Rosé Wines to Try

Rosé wines vary in color, aromatic complexity and sweetness, but they’re all worth trying. Every wine region worldwide produces some rosé, so the alternatives are unlimited. Having said that, here are three rosé wines to get you started in the complex category.

Rosé de Provence

Perhaps the most famous rosé in the world, Rosé de Provence, has roots going back to the Ancient Greeks — it is the pinnacle of dry rosé. Wine enthusiasts often describe these wines as refreshing and mineral, with red fruit aromas and hints of cooking herbs.

The grapes used to make these wines vary, but Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault are typical. You’ll find most of these wines labeled as Côtes de Provence AOC.

White Zinfandel

An excellent entry-level rosé with an underlying sweetness. This Californian specialty is easy to drink and has gained popularity among inexperienced wine lovers. Producers make the finest White Zinfandel with ancient vines. However, these wines are not made with a white variety, despite their name, but with red grapes — some of the richest and most concentrated in the world.

Rosé Champagne

Sparkling wine can turn a reunion into a party. And although all sparkling wine is festive, the most exclusive is pink. Some of the rarest and most expensive sparkling wines are rosé wines, and amongst the most exclusive, you’ll find Champagne rosé. Made with a combination of Chardonnay, Meunier and Pinot Noir or exclusively crafted with red grapes, Rosé Champagne is the ultimate luxury.

Budget-friendly alternatives include Spanish Cava Rosado and Italian Prosecco Rosé.

Rose Wine Chart

These are the most common questions about rosé.

What are the calorie contents?

Rosé comes in all sweetness levels, so its sugar content varies. Dry rosé with up to 3 grams of sugar per liter equals 1.8 calories per serving (5oz). Semi-sweet rosé with sugar as high as 12 grams per liter can contribute up to 7.2 calories per serving. Lusciously sweet rosé, like Rosé Port, with as much as 100 grams of residual sugar, equals up to 60 calories per serving.

Should Rosé be chilled?

Rosé is best enjoyed chilled at temperatures as low as fridge temperature (4°C - 39.2°F) and up to 10°C-50°F. When serving rosé, keep the open bottle in an ice bucket and treat it in the same way as you would treat white wine. Learn more about the ideal wine serving temperatures here.

What to pair with Rosé?

Rosé is a fantastic dinner partner. Dry and crisp styles are delicious when paired with seafood, from oysters and mussels cooked in wine to shellfish. Vegetable-based dishes and light appetizers are also compatible with dry rosé.

Sweeter rosé wines can tackle daring pairings, such as sticky pork ribs and glazed chicken wings. Sweet and sour sauces and semi-sweet recipes are compatible with sweet rosé.

Most importantly, rosé is delicious as an apéritif, especially when served chilled. Rosé is the perfect pool-side wine; you can pair it successfully with a wide variety of finger food and fried bite-sized appetizers.

Can you Age Rosé?

Aged rosé wines are rare, as the style lends itself to immediate consumption. However, some of the category’s finest examples spend time in oak barrels, where they gain complexity. If stored appropriately, one can enjoy a bottle of rosé for months or a few years.

Remember that producers bottle most of their rosé wines in clear bottles, which are susceptible to UV light damage. So, keep your rosé collection in a dim-lit place. To enjoy your wine collection one glass at a time, explore Coravin’s wine preservation systems.

Rosé; the Most Versatile Wine Style of All

Rosé is the perfect summer wine and has excellent compatibility at the table. Besides, the category rarely disappoints — its quality is incredibly high all around! Rosé is not an afterthought but a style to help you navigate complex food pairings. It’s also delicious on its own.

Undoubtedly, having a few rosé bottles in your cellar or fridge is a good idea. To make the most out of your pink collection, learn more about Coravin’s wine-by-the-glass systems. See what other wine lovers are saying about them!

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