What is rosé?
It is not a wine made of rose petals, but sometimes it’s aromatically similar and the color ranges can also be similar to roses- but not yellow and typically not spotted or Lincoln rose (hopefully). In the world of creating wine, rosé is similar to producing red wine LIKE a white wine with red wine varietals. However, rosé wines see skin contact time. The Saignée method is bled off the must with little skin contact. It is run off red wine, or secondary wine. Vin gris is purposely bled off with no maceration time. If one was to produce red wine like a white, one would find the liquid to be off pale.
There are other instances of rosé styles of wine that have nothing to do with red wine! When a white varietal sees skin contact, it turns the wine orange/ peach/ pinkish. Classically these are dubbed “orange wines” or “ramato” in Italian. Pinot Gris is a prime culprit in creating orange wine as it is a black skinned white varietal.
Summation- rosés are wines with little to no time with the skins. The wine is then lighter, less fruit driven (for that varietal) and much softer without the impact of tannins. Copper or orange wines, in turn, have more texture- tannins and more defined fruit components for the style of varietal used and depth on the palette (in comparison to rosé). Rarely do either style see time on oak, and they are not meant to be aged. However, I do not personally agree that rosés or copper wines must be drunk the year they are produced. Most wine needs some time to settle into the bottle, especially if it travels great distances to be consumed. So, don’t bank on your most current vintage of rosé as the best flavor, if you know what I mean…
So how do you buy rosés? Well, start with the varietal that it is made from. Typically if you like red wines in one style, the rosé style should be just as appealing. For example, if you are a Rhône red varietal fan- Grenach/Syrah- you will enjoy more robust rosé wines. Spanish rosés tend to be rather fruit driven with earthy components. Washington and California rosés tend to be more fruit forward. If you like a bit more acid and herbaceous undertones- Provence is a great choice as is the Loire Valley. Prefer something out of the ordinary? German rosés or Austrian.
Not a rosé or white wine drinker in general? Copper wines may be your alternative rosé style. The skin contact with the tannins and texture create a depth similar to consuming red wine. Copper wines pair amazingly with salami, poultry, aged cheeses, mushrooms and root vegetables.
With the variety of rosés in the market, there is no reason not to find one to venture to your next outing with. When in doubt, stop in and see what we have currently or send us a shout out!
Sommelier, food + wine writer