Photo: Instagram / stoningtonvineyards / lucasaw3
Bob Dylan once sang ‘these times they are a changing’ and he may (or possibly may not) have been talking about the reported rapid increase in the number of men drinking rosé wines (read full story here) – or “Brosé” wines as they are now being called! So if you are comfortable ordering a glass of something pink and chilled, or are still one well-groomed beard away from it, now seems a good time to look more closely at this fascinating but often misunderstood wine style.
Long popular in the warmer regions of Spain and Southern France, rosé wines are made using red grapes but with winemaking techniques similar to white wines. So the red colour from the grape skins is used to give the wines their soft pink colours but without the grippy, chewy tannins of a full bodied red wine. Colours range from vibrant purple through to delicate salmon pink – this great graphic (courtesy of www.gentlemansgazette.com) gives a useful guide to the different shades of rosé if you are looking for inspiration!
The wines can be made from a range of different grape varieties, all giving slightly different characters to the final wine. In Australia, Shiraz and Grenache are the two most common red grape varieties used for rosé although Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon are among some of the other varieties also used. New Zealand tends to produce more Pinot Noir rosé wines which can be spectacularly elegant and fine. It’s worth mentioning here that in both Australia and New Zealand there are no restrictions on the grape varieties that can be used to make rosé, but if the grape variety is ‘declared’ on the bottle, then the normal labeling laws apply.
It is possible to make rosé as a by-product of full bodied red wines – a small portion of the red fermenting grape juice is drained away and kept separately to finish its life as a rosé. This process is called ‘saignee’ and can be very useful in terms of concentrating the flavours of the remaining red wine as well as making a rosé wine, but in warmer grape growing regions like much of Australia the best rosé wines are made from red grapes picked specifically for rosé. The grapes will be picked a couple of weeks earlier than for a full bodied red wine to help preserve the natural crispness and acidity in the grapes, and this really shows in a more refined style of wine.
In terms of style, rosé wines can range right across the sweetness spectrum from crisp and dry through to rich and sweet – and it’s not always clear from the label where any given wine sits in terms of this, so it’s always a good idea to check with your local wine store staff.
At Merchants we have a range of rosé wines and in terms of food and wine matching they can be very versatile.The crisper drier styles like the Blue Pyrenees Estate Rosé or the Helen & Joey Estate Inara Rosé are delicate enough to accompany dishes with subtle flavours like seafood or lighter pasta dishes, and the off-dry styles like the Robert Stein Rosé from the Mudgee region of Australia can provide a great counterpoint to dishes with a little chilli heat.
One thing we are always thankful for is that here in Singapore every day is a perfect day for rosé – one of the benefits of an equatorial climate. So sit back and relax with a chilled glass of rosé – whether you’re a hipster or not, drinking rose is now officially ok for the guys!
Merchants is a collective of small, independent and artisanal winemakers from Australia and New Zealand. Our vision is to create authentic wine experiences for our passionate wine community, and ensure a future for our small winemakers.