A Quick Guide to Rosé Wine
When the mood for something thirst-quenching strikes, popping a bottle of rosé is always a good idea. Here at Verve Wine, we approach rosé wines with the same philosophy that we do reds and whites: the juice must be sustainably produced, reflect the place from which it comes, and above all, taste downright delicious. Looking to dive deeper into the world of drinking pink? Check out our comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about rosé wine, here.
Rosé is produced in nearly every wine-producing region across the globe. The wines get their pink hue from different levels of skin contact, which can range from seconds to days, depending on the desired outcome. The most important takeaway regarding rosé hue is that it has zero correlation with a wine’s level of sweetness! Contrary to popular belief, lighter-hued rosés are not drier/sweeter than darker-hued rosés based on their color alone. In reality, most rosés are vinified dry, though sweet expressions do exist. Rosés are produced in still, semi-sparkling, and sparkling formats.
How Rosé Is Made
The four principal methods used to produce rosé are skin contact, direct press (vin gris), saignée, and blending. When rosé is the primary product, skin contact or direct press are used. The skin contact method is pretty simple: harvest red grapes, let the juice macerate on its skins for a shorter period of time than you would a red wine, then vinify accordingly. Direct press involves harvesting red grapes and immediately pressing the juice from their skins, leaving barely any time for skin contact. These wines are the lightest in color, as they see the shortest amount of time on the skins (this is why the French often refer to them as vin gris, or grey wine).
The saignée (‘bleeding’) method is a bit different, in that the outcome leaves a winemaker with both red wine and rosé wine. The saignée method is generally implemented when a winemaker is in the process of vinifying his/her red wine and then decides to remove some of the juice from its tank/barrel. This leaves the winemaker with the same amount of end wine, but two different products: rosé (the ‘bled off’ juice), and a smaller amount of more concentrated red wine.
Blending is exactly what it sounds like -- mixing red wine and white wine together to create a pink-hued juice. While this method is frowned upon (and not permitted) in most appellations, there’s one shocking exception to the rule: rosé Champagne. Although it sounds contrary, this method is used in this northerly French region because its frigid temperatures make it almost impossible for red grapes to ripen. However, many Champenoise producers still choose to use the saignée method over blending.
Classic Rosé-Producing Regions
Rosé is produced in nearly every wine-producing appellation across the globe, though some regions garner more attention than others. France’s southerly Provence region is certainly synonymous with rosé production, though top-quality pink juice is produced in Corsica (Yves Leccia and Domaine de Marquiliani), the Rhône, the Loire Valley (Domaine Vacheron), and beyond.
Elsewhere in Europe, great rosés are produced across Spain, notably in Navarra, Rioja, Catalonia (Cava), and the Basque Country (Ameztoi’s Txakoli Rosé is unmissable!) In Portugal, fizzy Vinho Verde rosés are perfect for sipping beneath the sun, and in Italy, rosé is produced across the entire country, from Nebbiolo-based bottles in Piedmont to ashy, sun-kissed Etna Rosati in Sicily. Germany and Austria are also home to some stellar rosé scenes. We particularly love the Zweigelt-based expression from Weingut Nigl, produced in the heart of Austria’s Kremstal region.
In the United States, great rosés are produced all across California, from the North Coast down to Santa Barbara. Up north, we can’t get enough of Arnot-Roberts, Las Jaras, and Monte Rio Cellars bottles, and to the south, Lieu Dit and Sous-Marine never disappoint. In New York, our friend Thomas Pastuszak produces an insanely delicious Blaufrankisch-based rosé in the Finger Lakes, and in South America, our friend Piero Incisa della Rochetta is absolutely crushing it with his Pinot Noir-based Patagnonian rosé.
Read More: 7 Rosé Producing Regions You Should Know
Rosé & Food Pairings
Although rosé is generally viewed as a food-free poolside sipper, these wines are actually some of the most versatile bottles to put on the table. Rosé’s high levels of acidity, fruit-forwardness, and lack of tannins (yet presence of structure) makes these bottles capable of standing up to an insane variety of cuisines. From French-inspired apéro snacks to heartier southern Italian fare to spicy Asian takeout favorites, these wines genuinely pair well with nearly every food imaginable. Some of our favorite rosé and food pairings include hearty cheese and charcuterie boards, #TacoTuesday favorites, chicken tikka masala, and of course, Domaine Tempier-inspired bouillabaisse.
Read More: Producers We Love: Domaine Tempier
Aging, Serving, & More
Although 99% of rosés are consumed within their year of release, well-made bottles of rosé wine can actually withstand the test of time. The solid structure and high levels of acidity found in good rosés from reputable producers can be laid down and revisited years down the line. We truly believe that aged rosé makes for some of the most underrated and thought-provoking sipping experiences out there. We recommend snagging a few bottles from one or two higher-end producers (think Domaine Tempier or Clos Ste. Magdeleine) and laying them down to rest, then popping their corks a few years down the line. You’ll be amazed at how these bottles evolve!
Key Rosé Producers
As always, knowing who to drink from is key. Here’s a short list of some of our favorite rosé producers around the globe:
- Ameztoi (Txakolina, Spain)
- Arnot-Roberts (North Coast, California)
- Chacra (Patagonia, Argentina)
- Clos Canarelli (Corsica)
- Clos Ste Magdeleine (Provence, France)
- Domaine du Gros ‘Noré (Provence, France)
- Domaine Tempier (Provence, France)
- Presqu’ile (Santa Barbara, California)
- Railsback Frères (Santa Barbara, California)
- Triennes (Provence, France)
- Weingut Nigl (Kremstal, Austria)
- Yves Leccia (Corsica)