Rosé wine is often derided for its simplicity, and yet, in huge contrast, the wine drinking public cannot get enough of it. Last year in the UK, we Brits drank a whopping 12 million cases. The hotter the weather, the more we guzzled.
On a recent trip to Majorca my friends and I indulged in a predominantly rosé extravaganza. It was a self-propelling journey into the pink, adrift in the spirit of sunshine and easy living. They were (mostly) inexpensive, (mostly) simple wines and all perfect by the pool.
Spanish rosé wine tasting - all wines produced in Majorca
We are not amused!
Despite the rise of the pink drink phenomenon that has been raging for over a decade, we still don’t consider rosé as a high quality offering. Even expert guidance explaining the production methods and styles, flavours and food pairings are in short supply. Wine commentators quite often prefer to sniff the air when it comes to rosé and sup on something with a perceived greater cache: a glass of Blanc de Blancs Champagne, a chilled Chablis, or even a craft beer perhaps?
So thank goodness for this new book by Master of Wine, Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, titled ‘Rosé Wine - The Guide To Drinking Pink’. I have to admit that reading it has turned out to be far more fun that I originally anticipated. The author begins by giving us some background information on the history of pink wines, before embarking on a colourful journey that should give the reader a better idea of how to distinguish between various styles of rosé and so enhance the pleasure of drinking.
New fad or does rosé wine have pedigree?
Rosé is not as new a phenomenon as many would think. One particular famous example is that of claret, the much used term for Bordeaux red wine. We Brits have maintained our affection for claret since at least the 12th century. It turns out to be no coincidence that the word claret comes from the Latin word clarus meaning clear. The Bordeaux red wines of old were favoured for their lighter colour, in contrast to the full bodied reds we know and love today.
In the course of the history of pink wine, it would be remiss of me not to mention the brand Mateus Rosé. Mateus was created in 1942 and was elevated to cultural icon status when Jimi Hendrix was photographed swigging from the flask shaped bottle. At around the same time, the Queen of England was heard requesting a bottle of Mateus, and Elton John was singing about how he liked to “get juiced on Mateus and just hang loose”. Saddam Hussain stockpiled the stuff in his palaces, whilst Pope Paul VI was seen sipping it on his flight to the UN.
So if anyone wants to talk about cache… let them drink pink!
Vitalie Taittinger suggests bathing in the Prestige Rosé Taittinger...
But, as has been said before on this website, we do live in a golden age of wine. As the quality of wine in general has risen, we can only assume that rosé wine production has also piggy-backed on the upward quality curve to greater heights. The challenge remains to discern the right wine for one’s own taste.
Discover your inner pink
More than just being a book about a certain type of wine, Simonetti-Bryan has created a very practical method for determining what style of rosé wine the reader prefers. By the use of charts and questionnaires, the reader is able to undergo a little self analysis and pin point some options of style to consider.
A beautiful negroamaro rosado from Salento in Southern Italy, bursting with ripe red fruit, matches buffalo mozzerella and pizza supremely well!
Blush or rich cherry pink?
There are several styles of rosé wine that are on offer that range from the sweet to dry, or floral to fruity. These have been bunched into colour codes by Simonetti-Bryan making the process of finding our own preferred tone of pink very user-friendly.
By breaking down how the wine styles can differ, and then subjectively analysing our own taste, the reader is able to detect a preference. This preference might be: crisp, sour, candied, dry, floral, fruity, or, sweeter and rounder. The concepts appear intuitive but the results that come out might surprise the reader.
Going through the process myself I fell into the fruity character range. It seems about right, although I could think of certain scenarios whereby I might transgress my fruity boundaries, especially if I am eating. But that is the nature of life. I would suggest that any rosé wine lover is likely to find this guide helpful and fun.
You can buy the book from Amazon by clicking here
Champagne Pannier's Terence Kenny says the blend of his rosé Champagne is just right to delight (but he would say that wouldn't he?)
Rosé tips from the Secret Sommelier archive
Some pinks to try:
Les Pins Couchés, Jean-Luc Colombo 2015
Les Pins Couches fits the bill for a clean light summer fruit mix of strawberry and raspberry with a refreshing finish that just might have you reaching for a second bottle.
Viña Real Rioja Rosado, 2014
Pale in colour, subtle summer fruit aromas, even strawberry cheesecake but very light with a gorgeous mouth cleansing freshness that leaves me wanting for another glass. A fab aperitif but be warned, it’s an easy sipper so put a couple in the fridge. A fabulous wine for cold meat and vegetable tapas dishes.
£10 a bottle from The Wine Reserve
Cabaret, Cotes du Provence 2016
A very pale pink with light scented perfume of red fruit and hint of citrus. This may suit those who prefer subtlety over upfront fruitiness. Crisp and dry with a clean finish. Perfect match for smoked salmon, cured ham, artichoke.
A popular rosé available in Oddbins among many other retailers.
By Nick Breeze