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The Ultimate Guide to Rosé

Category: Majestic Guides

The Ultimate Guide to Rosé

In short:

As Rosé Retailer of the Year (IWC 2023), we’re huge fans of the ever popular style – and well placed to give you a run through of how rosé came to be, how it’s made – and some of our favourite bottles to enjoy this season.

Rosé is perfect for sipping in spring, summer, or any day with a hint of sunshine; but did you know it’s also a fantastic food pairing, as well as a great accompaniment to cooler weather? Here’s our guide to the irreplaceable rosé.


The History of Rosé

Although an early form of rosé is said to have started in Greece, it was made popular in the South of France by the Romans. This journey started in the 1600s, when vines were transported from Greece to Marseille. The following introduction of Romans into the area then transformed its popularity via their successful trading links. Although the rose-tinted drink saw a decline in popularity in recent decades, it is sharply on the rise, experiencing a rebirth as a light and refreshing choice, perfect for those who want something easy-drinking.


How is Rosé Made?

The ‘Maceration’ Method
Rosé’s pink colour is achieved using red grapes – often Pinot Noir, Grenache, or Tempranillo. Through the ‘Maceration’ method, the grapes are pressed, and only allowed to sit with the skins for a brief period of time, which can be anywhere between six and 48 hours. The longer they are left, the darker the blush, and the stronger the tannins and mouthfeel.

Direct Pressing
The process of ‘Direct Pressing’ is similar to the ‘Maceration’ method, but leaves almost no time for the juice to soak up colour from the skins. Here, grapes are pressed straight away in order to remove the skins, but due to the skins’ dark pigment, there will inevitably still be a subtle colour left in the juice. This results in a style of rosé that’s particularly light and delicate in hue.

The ‘Saignée’ Method
‘Saignée’ actually occurs as an offshoot of red wine production. During the fermentation process of red wine, some of the juice is separated in its first few hours of production, which is kept to make rosé. This juice is then fermented separately, ultimately becoming a darker, more tannic wine than in other methods.

The ‘Blending’ Method
Finally, the ‘Blending’ method involves a tiny amount of red wine being blended with white. This method is often used to craft sparkling rosé, whereby the dosage will include a red wine from the same vineyard.

No One Way to Make Rosé
There is no one way to make rosé, as this selection of methods has shown. This vast variety in approaches means that rosé can come in a whole spectrum of hues, from deep rosy pink, to a light, peachy blush. Depending on the style the winemaker is looking to create, and the grape that they have chosen, the flavour of the wine can vary hugely, from fruit-forward, sweeter rosé, to light and delicate styles.


Rosé Styles from Around the World

Provence Rosé, produced in the Provence appellation in the South of France, is a go-to for many rosé drinkers due to its delicate light colour and fresh fruity aromas. Its soft pink hue is produced by leaving the juice with the grape skins for a short amount of time, and the resulting flavours are commonly pink grapefruit, summer berries, minerals and a refreshing acidity. With this light, fresh style’s growing popularity, many regions and countries have started producing their own versions of light pink rosé – usually referred to as ‘Provençal style’ if not actually from the South of France. The versatility of Provence Rosé means that it typically pairs well with summer canapés, sharing boards and light, crisp seafood dishes.

Tempranillo Rosé (Or Rosado)
Tempranillo rosé, often hailing from Rioja, is more than just Spain’s answer to Provence rosé – it’s a delicious contender in its own right. The tempranillo grape is usually powerful in flavour and tannins, therefore when even a small amount is added, it results in a very different style of rosé. Expect flavours of watermelon, strawberry, and peppery or grassy notes. Adding in Graciano and Grenache grapes will give it balance. As its country of origin may suggest, its wonderful fruity flavours make it an acidic and refreshing accompaniment to tapas.

Pinot Noir Rosé
This grape is used all over both the Old and New World to craft rosé, and as a delicate grape, it especially loves cooler climates – but can also thrive during conditions of extreme temperature changes. The result is a wine that is earthy, elegant, and acidic – with refreshing balance. Its brightness and fresh fruity notes means it lends itself well to goat’s cheese salad or fresh seafood dishes.

Our top Old World Rosé picks

New World Rosé
New World rosé is usually off-dry, meaning that it’s fruity, tropical, and perfect for those with a sweet tooth. It’s a much deeper pink than Provence Rosé and will often feature notes of strawberry jam. New World Rosé is often produced in places like the USA, where Bread & Butter’s vibrant version of the style is made – a fresh blend of Grenache and Barbera, with bright notes of red fruits, melon and rooibos balanced by a zippy acidity.
Craggy Range is home to a fantastic, if overlooked, New World pink wine – and another great example of New World Rosé. Grapes were picked during cool temperatures to ensure freshness, resulting in a wine with aromas of juniper, rosewater and crushed wild berries. The bright fruity notes of New World Rosé are delicious when paired with fresh seafood or barbequed fish.

White Zinfandel
White Zinfandel, or Zinfandel rosé rose to fame in the United States, making it a great example of the New World. A sweeter, off-dry style, it boomed in popularity in the 1970s and 1980s, but since then saw a decline in drinkers who began to prefer a subtler Provence style to its melon and strawberry notes. Recently however, it’s been making a comeback in some circles, with innovative wineries experimenting with exciting reinventions of the style.

Its sugary candy-floss quality makes this rosé a great match for Thai curry, sweet barbeque pork ribs, and even some desserts.

Shop our top New World Rosé picks

Hidden Gems
If you’re already a fan of rosé but are in the mood for something a little different, there are many overlooked regions and styles to discover. Lugana, on the shores of Lake Garda, is home to Tommasi 'Le Fornaci' Rosé, with its richly aromatic characteristics of peach blossoms and mandarin zest.

Similarly, Greece may not be the first country you think of when it comes to rosé, but it's home to some sumptuous bottles – as Kintonis ‘Agapi by Kintonis’ Rosé proves. High altitudes and sea breezes create a wine that is floral, fruity and complex, with flavours of peach, strawberry and blueberry.

The unique properties of these styles of rosé will make them a great match for their local cuisines, or the versatility of pasta dishes.

Our top Hidden Rosé Gems

Sparkling Rosé
Sparkling rosé can come in many varieties, from Rosé Champagne – as first produced by the iconic Champagne house Ruinart, as was recently discovered – to Cava Rosé and Rosé Prosecco, which was only recently allowed to use the Prosecco title.

There are also key differences in processes for rosé sparkling wines. For Champagne, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes are used. The ‘saignée’ method, as mentioned earlier, is employed, and the wine is completed via ‘Méthode Champenoise’ – in which a secondary fermentation is allowed to take place in the bottle. Cava and South African sparkling rosé are also crafted using méthode champenoise, however, in South Africa this is referred to as ‘Méthode Cap Classiques’.

Depending on the country of origin, sparkling rosé can range from exhibiting red-berry and toasty notes, like with rosé Champagne, to the floral flavours of Spain’s Cava and South Africa’s sparkling rosé. Fruity, crisp and light, sparkling rosé makes an excellent choice for any celebration, from cosy dinner parties to sunny barbeques.

Our top Sparkling Rosé picks