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Think Pink - It’s Rosé Season!

As soon as the sun comes out, I immediately start to crave a chilled glass of luscious rosé wine. Of course, I have been known to drink rosé in winter too, but for me spring sunshine is synonymous with cool, mouth-watering rosé wine, ideally drunk outdoors.

But what exactly is rosé wine? Some people believe it is made from red and white wines mixed together. This isn’t entirely incorrect; however, it is extremely uncommon and very much frowned upon in some countries including Italy and France. Surprisingly, Champagne is the main exception to this rule as Pinot Noir is frequently blended with Chardonnay to make either white or rosé champagne.

The most common method used for making rosé wine is called ‘maceration’ which is the method by which red wine is made. The juice extracted from both black and white grapes is colourless; red wine gets its deep colour (as well as tannins and some flavour) from the grape skins. The process of maceration means that the juice from the grapes is left in contact with the grape skins for a length of time – the longer the contact, the deeper the colour of the wine. Rosé wine making begins in the same way, the difference being that the juice remains in contact with the skins for a much shorter time (usually between 2 and 20 hours) before the skins are removed. The fermentation is then completed in the same way as a white wine would be. It is therefore the length of time that the grape juice is in contact with the grape skins that determines the final depth of colour of the rosé wine. The final colour of the wine bears no correlation to the level of sweetness of the wine (a common misconception) instead, the colour indicates how long the maceration lasted.

The third method is called the ‘saignée’ or bleeding method. This method is used when the winemaker is also in the process of making red wine. The grapes begin their fermentation in contact with the skins, but after a short time, some of the fermenting juice is ‘bled’ off to make rosé wine with and the remainder continues its fermentation process to become red wine.

So which rosé wine should you buy? Like all wine choices, it is entirely a matter of personal taste. Rosé wine can be made from any red grape, but most commonly Pinot Noir, Syrah, Tempranillo and Grenache are used.

Provence in the South of France is famed for its rosé wine and rightly so as it is delicious. Made from a variety of different red grapes including Grenache and Cinsault, its light refreshing style with medium body and pale colour make it an attractive option for sipping in the sun.

Rosé d’Anjou is another popular French Rosé wine produced in Loire Valley. It comes from the Anjou-Saumur region and is made mainly with Cabernet Franc or Grolleau Noir grapes. It is also a dry style and can be easily found in most wine retailers and supermarkets.

Tavel is a region in the Rhône Valley in France where only rosé wine is produced. Like in the rest of the Southern Rhône, Grenache is the main grape used here and the wine produced is usually quite full-bodied with intense fruit flavours.

Most wine drinkers will have tried Californian White Zinfandel at some point. It’s moderately sweet, low alcohol finish with flavours of strawberry and candy floss make it appealing to many.

Spain is well known for its rose wines too where it is called Rosado. It is commonly made in the Rioja region often using the Garnacha (Grenache) or the Tempranillo grape varieties.

Cheers to the first signs of summer and sipping a chilled glass of rosé outdoors!

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