Menus & Entertaining

Rosé wine: Light and lively

By: Anne Martin, Sommelier

Author: Canadian Living

Menus & Entertaining

Rosé wine: Light and lively

By: Anne Martin, Sommelier
This story was originally titled "The Wine Taster: Rosé" in the September 2008 issue. Subscribe to Canadian Living today and never miss an issue!

Rosé (ro-ZAY)

In North America, rosé falls into two categories; both are made from red grapes.

The first is a generally drier, more serious rosé, which is made all over the world. It can vary in sweetness, depending on where the grapes were grown and the style the winemaker chooses to make it in. This style of rosé offers fresh fruit, vibrant acidity and good structure, and is tremendously flexible when pairing with food.

The second type is blush wine, which mostly comes from California. Its lighter, fruitier taste was developed to appeal to a specific U.S. market. Easy to drink, it matches well with picnic and other lighthearted fare. 

9 things you should know about rosé:
1. Like red wine, rosé takes its colour from grape skins. The intensity depends on the length of time the skins stay in contact with the juice, from less than an hour to a few days.

2. Some rosés are made by blending a small amount of red wine with white wine. The best ones are made using a method called saignée, which means "to bleed" in French. After a short maceration period with the skins, the pink juice is "bled out" and fermented like white wine.

3. Rosé can be made from any variety of red grape. Some of the many varietals used are Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Merlot.

4. Rosé wines are best enjoyed young, within one to three years of their vintage. However, some Tavels, named for their French southern Rhône appellation of origin, will keep for up to five years. The older vintages are very interesting to try.

In the south of France, rosés are extremely popular because they are dry, refreshing in hot weather and offer some of the body of that country's beloved red wines. Look for examples from Provence, the southern Rhône, the Languedoc and Roussillon.

6. Spanish rosés, many of which come from the Navarra region, are known as rosado (lighter pink) or clarete (darker pink). Italians use rosato for lighter hues and chiaretto for darker ones. 

7. Portugal exports most of its best-known rosés. Mateus Rosé and similar wines were created to appeal to the North American taste for sweet, lightly fizzy wine. Strong North American demand drove the market for years.

8. White Zinfandel is more of a style of wine, not a type of grape. This pale pink, slightly sweet, sometimes-fizzy blush wine is made from the red-skinned Zinfandel grape.

9. There are a multitude of great-quality Canadian rosés, made from all manner of red grapes, including Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc, Gamay and Cabernet Sauvignon. From Ontario, Stratus Wildass Rosé delivers a big, brooding style – barbecued ribs are a perfect match. From B.C., Sumac Ridge Private Reserve Rosé is softer and fruitier – more suitable for a summer's day picnic.

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Rosé profile
: Light pink to almost red
Alcohol: Moderate to high
Acidity: Soft to lively
Tannin: None to light
Aroma profile: Strawberry or fresh fruit salad to more-austere mineral notes Styles: Light, soft and sweet (blush wines) to rich, full-bodied and bone-dry.

Old-world rosés are grown in the following countries (Grape Varieties):
France (Grenache, Cinsault, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir and more), Italy (Sangiovese, Corvina and Rondinella) and Spain (Tempranillo), Germany and Portugal (local varietals)

Look for new-world rosés from these countries (Grape Varieties)
Australia, Canada, United States, South Africa, South America and New Zealand (any grapes used to make red wines)

How to serve
Stemware: White wine glass
Temperature: 46°F to 55°F (8°C to 13°C); sweeter rosés are better colder
Best enjoyed: At a relaxed summer picnic or barbecue, or on the dock at midday
Food pairings: Lighter, fruitier rosés go well with cold cuts, chicken wings and ham with pineapple. Drier styles go well with barbecued meats, sausages, seafood and roast chicken. Both are able to handle spicy food quite well. Bouillabaisse is a classic pairing with drier rosés from the south of France, Italy or Spain.

How long will it keep?

The problem is wine deteriorates as soon as you pull the cork. The culprit? Air exposure.

The simple solution if to chill your wine – red, white and pink alike – and keep it as airtight as possible. It should last almost a week (the heavier-bodied the wine, the longer it keeps). Don't keep open bottles for cooking for weeks on end. Or pull the air out with a vacuum sealer or spray carbon dioxide into the bottle and recork, there are lots ot gadgets on the market that can do this for you. Tip: If you can't drink it, don't cook with it.

Read more:
Shiraz and syrah: Demystifying this complex red grape
Chardonnay: How to enjoy this versatile while wine
Yum! Fine wine online

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Rosé wine: Light and lively