The Beyoncé Knowles of wine. Hugely popular and doesn’t need to play an instrument.

Rosé can be made from a wide variety of grapes; and it isn’t hard to spot the pink princess in bottles and in glasses all over the world. There’s also couple of different ways to mike it; and when rosé wine is the primary product, it is produced with the skin contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically 2 – 20 hours.

To make most rosé wine, red grapes are lightly crushed and left to macerate with their red skins for a little while (anywhere from a few hours to a few days), after which the juice is strained out from the solid stuff (called “must”) and fermented in tanks.

The longer the grapes’ skins are left sitting in the wine, the darker the color of the finished rosé… and the more it’ll take on the deeper, more tannic characteristics you find in red wine. As it happens, red wine is made in a similar way. Red grapes have white insides and produce clear juice, so you can make any color wine with them. It’s the length of time that the juice is left to hang out with the dark skins that determines whether it’ll be white, pink, or red.

How Rosé is made…

1. Maceration Method

The maceration method is when red wine grapes are left to macerate or rest, as a juice for a period of time and afterward the entire batch of juice is developed into a rosé wine.

  • Around 85% of rosés on the market are made via the ‘marceration method’.
  • The most popular regions for producing rose, like Languedoc-Roussillion and Provence (France) use this method; and where rosé is as important as red or white wine.

2. Saignée Method

The Saignée (“San-yay”) or ‘Bled”method is when rose is made whereby during the first few hours of making a red wine, some of the juice is ‘bled off’ and put into a new vat to make a rosé.

  • About 10% of all rose produced globally are made via this method and is most common in wine regions that also make fine red wines, such as Napa and Sonoma.
  • The purpose of bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely rosé but it also concentrates the red wines’ intensity.

3. Blending Method

The blending method is when a small amount of red wine is added to a vat of white wine to make rosé.

  • Not surprisingly to the common sense law of colour blending, it doesn’t take very long, or much red wine to make a white wine pink.
  • Makes up about 5% of roses in the world, where red wine is added to white wine to make rose.
  • Mostly seen in sparkling rose and regions knows for producing Champagne e.g. Ruinart’s ‘Rose Champagne which is primarily Chardonnay, with a dash of pinot noir blended in.
Half and half

Rosé isn’t from a specific grape or region; it’s just a genre of wine, like red or white. The biggest producers by volume are France, Spain (where it’s “rosado”), Italy (“rosato”), and the United States. There’s also excellent stuff coming from Germany, Australia, South America, Chile and more upcoming corners of the world.

Most rosé wines are blends of multiple grapes. Some of the most common grape varieties used  in dry/European-style rosé are Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir.

Rosé, unlike most red wine and some white wine, does not improve over the years — so don’t get any fabulous ideas about buying case loads for hoarding over the years. There’s no shame in drinking something with last year printed on the label. You shouldn’t drink (and probably won’t find) anything that’s dated more than two or three years back.

Dry = not sweet. And that’s what you want: a wine that’s fresh and acidic, without extra sugar to bury its mineral/fruity/whatever flavours and aromas. Remember, it was super-sweet white zinfandel and its mass-produced brethren that gave rosé a bad name to begin with.

The primary flavours of Rosé wine are:

  • Red fruit,
  • Flowers,
  • Citrus,
  • Melon, and
  • Rhubarb (or green celery)

Like most wines the flavour profile deeply depends on the type of rosé grape is made, and where is comes from. For example, a deeply-colored Italian Aglianico rosé–rosé is called “Rosato” in Italy,– will offer up cherry and orange zest flavors, and a pale-colored Grenache rosé from Provence in France will taste of honeydew melon, lemon and celery.

Since so many different kinds of rosé are being made all over the world, the dry vs. sweet question matters a lot more than a wine’s country of origin. But, if you’re feeling totally bewildered at the wine store, here’s a general rule of thumb:

  • Old world rosé (those from Europe) = More dry
  • New world rosé (those from everywhere else) = Less dry

This rule should be applied to help narrow down decision making at the table or in bottle stores with overwhelming choice. There are many exceptions to this rule however… Some rosé from California are subtle and bone-dry; and some made in Europe have higher than normal sugar levels.

When in doubt, look for something from France — specifically, Provence.

France is the motherland of traditional, dry rosé (hence its name), and it’s hard to go too far wrong with anything from Provence, the Rhône valley, or the Loire valley.

Provençal rosé (made in southern France) tend to be very pale/ baby pink, or salmon-colored; and tasting notes are most commonly strawberry, raspberry, and citrus. YUM.

There are multiple appellations (official names that certify a wine has been made in a specific region according to specific requirements) within Provence, so you’ll know that’s where it’s from if you see any of these printed on a bottle’s label:

  • Côtes de Provence
  • Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
  • Cassis
  • Coteaux Varois
  • Bandol

The good news is… Rosés are usually typically priced under $20 and inexpensive, especially compared with red wines. Thats because these wines are young and relatively cheap to make. They’re also still fairly under-appreciated in the many western markets, which explains why French rosé is affordable despite the fact that most French imports are pretty pricey for average consumers.

HACK: You need not pay more than $15 for a bottle

Also a great option, if you’re not feeling the French stuff. Get your hands on some Spanish Rosados. These tend to be a little bigger and bolder than their French neighbours, with deeper pink colour and up-front fruit flavours that work well with meat. They’re also less hyped and thus usually a good bargain.

Now there are plenty of people who just wont drink rose. Haters sometimes characterize it a ‘girls drink’ and cant lose sight of nasty hang over once experienced downing a couple bottles of Moscato once in college. However, there’s also crappy everything else. Skip the gallon-size jug of pink dishwater and you’ll be have a great time.

And the fabulous part is, even if you want to splurge on the top shelf stuff – you’re looking at no more than $25 or $30 a bottle.

Marketing magic

Rose is one of the best marketed products of all time. Don Draper himself could likely not do better at bringing this new found passion for pink wine to market.

When it comes to Summer drinking: fruity seasonal cocktails make up a class in its own. From poolside sips to al fresco aperitivo, Summer places a lot of specific demands on its drink: they must be cool, they must be refreshing, and they must be capable of infusing us with a “this is the life” sensibility to feel nostalgic over, once the temperature start to drop.

Drink of the Summer: Rosé

Town and Country magazine asked fans to vote for their favourite sips of the season on their Instagram page – and all Summer drinks went head-to-head in a ‘Sip of the Season’ drag-out finale.

Not surprisingly many fans sided with Margarita and Aperol Spritz as the favourite drink of Summer. But when they tallied up all of the individual votes, France’s pink sensation came out on top with a narrow but definitive 52% of the overall vote!

‘Rosé all day’ indeed!

If you’re interested in more about how Rose is made, here’s a pie chart that illustrates production by variety well.

How do you pair Rosé with food?

The great thing about most styles of rose is that is it great to drink without food. It goes great with a Summer barbecue and the temperature variation doesn’t seem to bother its drinking population too much. But how do you pair rose with food properly? A tricky question for all.

You probably noticed there were different types of rosé the same way we did—by drinking lots of it. And while rosé happens to be a very versatile wine, there are certain foods it pairs best with, if you’re fancy and so inclined.

This largely taste profile for depends rosé wines vary based on the different grape varietals used and the time on the skins. And colour is a good indicator of what foods will match.

The nearest equivalent to this style of rosé is crisp dry white wines such as Pinot Grigio and they’ll go with similar food: principally light salads, light pasta and rice dishes, especially with seafood, raw and lightly cooked shellfish and grilled fish and goats’ cheeses.

Rose’s made using the Saignée method will leave you with a light pink hue that will be dry with subtle aromatics. Such examples of other varietals would be Cabernet Franc leading to savoury notes, or Pinot Noir offering more fruit. If the wine is a darker hue it may give a touch of tannins and will have a fuller mouth feel. These different styles make rosé wines extremely versatile.