Maybe the answer to ‘what is rosé?’ seems obvious to you. Maybe not.
Maybe you are thinking ‘duh, it is the pink wine’. Or maybe you are like ‘yes, it’s pink, but I actually don’t know how it got pink’. And maybe you do know how it gets pink, in which case, good for you. But maybe you don’t. In which case, hi, we’re here for you.
If I had to list my favorite wine by color it would be:
Not only do I not fully ‘get’ why I should like rosé, but I find it time consuming to write about because of all the pressing of ‘alt’ and then ‘e’ and then ‘e’ again to make the right ‘é’.
But the wine you or I or anyone enjoys is a very personal thing and while I don’t really yet ‘understand’ rosé wine (which hurts me deeply because pink is a great color), I do appreciate its story.
So here’s a bit about rosé wines.
How does rosé wine get its pink colour?
Rosé is pink wine that gets its pink colours from the red skins of red grapes.
There are thousands of different wine grapes. Thousands. And there are thousands of resulting different types of wines.
If you ever sat in front of the refrigerated fruit section in the grocery store and looked at a box with green grapes, pink grapes, and dark purple grapes (because why not? right?) you might have thought ‘oh, that’s why we have white, rosé and red wine’. And you’d be kind of right. Kind of.
White wines can be made from white grapes and, generally speaking, they are. But the (arguably) most famous of the white wines, our good friend Champagne, is actually made from red grapes (Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier).
The color of wine, be it white, red or rosé, is determined by the amount of contact the wine has with the skin of the grape.
For MOST wines the longer the contact with the skin, the deeper the color (there are, of course, exceptions and other methods used, but this is the main one and we are going with this for now for the sake of simplicity).
Red wines are left to ferment with their skins, while white wines made from red grapes make no (or very little) contact with the skin.
Rosé wines have some contact with the skin, which produce a variety of pinks from pale to lurid pink depending on the length of contact.
Why should I like rosé wine?
If you are in a book club or if you’ve enjoy ladies night or if you like BBQs or a beach days or would like to visit to the Provence region of France or are staying in the Love Nest room at the Madonna Inn then be prepared to get comfortable with rosé.
While there are wine makers out there that get creative and push the boundaries of rosé wine, I’d say the majority of rosé wines are meant to be paired with sunshine and fun. They aren’t designed to be analysed or judged, but to be drunk ice-cold and in the company of friends.
It is a celebratory wine!
Indeed, the only times I have enjoyed rosé are when it was Billecart Salmon Rose Champagne (which is truly very delicious and subtle and I could drink by the tank full) or its on a hot day with good company where my attention isn’t on what I’m drinking.
Also, it’s pink. Which is actually the main reason I’ll buy it.
What is up with all the different shades of rosé?
Many people turn away from deep or bright pink rosé wines because they think that they will be sweeter or that they are dyed artificially.
This is not the case. Going back to our earlier acquired knowledge – the variation of shades has more to do with the contact with the skins than anything else.
However, the particular shade of pink will tell you something about the taste of the wine. Which leads us nicely into our next section.
What should rosé wine taste like?
In general, when I think rosé wine I think of crunchy and red fruits. What does this even mean? Let me explain.
Crunchy fruit is like rhubarb or melon that is slightly underripe. You know when you get one of those pre-cut melon things from the store and they have not let the melon ripen and it’s slightly crunchy and lacks in flavour and has that under ripe taste? Yeah, that’s what I mean when I say crunchy fruit.
Red fruits are, you know, red fruits. But not red apple. More like strawberry and raspberry, but again on the less ripe side, rather than a fuller, riper taste.
What all of these flavours have in common in they are a little on the sour side and fairly fruity, but also subtle. And rosé wine is all of these things.
HOWEVER. Not all rosé wine tastes the same. As with everything in life it isn’t black and white (or red and white in this case :)) or straightforward or simple.
The particular shade of pink is a good barometer for what you should expect from your wine.
Now, if your wine is in a can then good luck trying to figure this out BEFORE purchasing and if I figure it out, I’ll let you know, but until then cross your fingers and hope for the best.
However, if you are buying a bottle the color of the wine can give you an indication of what you’re about to drink.
Generally it goes like this:
- Light pink = the driest of the pink wines, these will usually taste the most like crunchy fruit and red berries
- Light to medium pink = this indicated the wine will be less tarte and more floral (think roses)
- Medium pink = this wine is going to be fuller, with ripe raspberry and red fruit flavour and hints of white pepper
- Dark pink = a round, full bodied rosé that will taste reminiscent of fruit jam with a peppery kick