Lifestyle / Food And Drink

Wine Wizard
2 minute read
14 Jul 2014
6:00 pm

Time to take Rosé wine more seriously

Wine Wizard

Wine drinkers have a love-hate relationship with Rosé: for many purists, it is something of a bastard wine, a half-caste, neither white nor red (often also neither sweet nor dry).

It has long been assumed that Rosé wine can never be a serious beverage. Somewhere, so the logic suggests, a winemaker had a little red wine he couldn’t sell and a lot of white wine also looking for a home. He put the two together and came up with something pink, simple and intensely commercial. Underlying this assumption is the belief that it’s not possible to make a serious Rosé.

There are very knowledgeable wine people who would choose to dispute that. Ordinarily they would turn to a single site in France – a small village named Tavel in the Southern Rhone – to substantiate their case. It is certainly true that the Grenache-based wines from Tavel (and the nearby village of Lirac) can be like delicately structured light red wines than the wishy-washy Rosés sold by winemakers trying to tidy up their cellars. More recently the pundits have added the top wines from nearby Provence and the Mediterranean appellation of Bandol – with Domaines Ott probably the most famous producer.

The really interesting feature of these wines is that they are made like very light reds: the key (and sometimes sole varieties) are red grapes and the pale colour is achieved by removing the grape skins from the fermentation very early – before they can really tint the juice. At their best, these wines offer just enough savoury tannin to serve as the ideal complement to a midday meal in mid-summer: strong enough for pasta, poultry salads and even lamb and veal, but not heavy or chewy.

This is the formula that South Africa’s most successful Rosé producers have adopted – at least when it comes to making something to satisfy wine aficionados. Delaire-Graff, for example, makes a very neat wine using Cabernet Franc, a grape that contributes spice and just the right amount of grippiness to a rose-coloured light red wine.

Of course, now that Rosé has swung back into fashion there are literally dozens of new labels on the market. Many are made by combining red and white juice, and the more commercially successful examples seem to have enough residual sugar to widen their appeal. The important thing about them is that they work, and they have brought thousands of new consumers back to the wine market.

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