Sipped for centuries, rosé was the aristocrats’ favorite wine until the Middle Ages when it was pushed off the table by red wine. Making a comeback in the twentieth century, rosé held a special place for the French, who appreciated its special color. Rosé has now achieved the same quality as the great red and white wines. With our changing climate, the French discovered you could enjoy this delicious taste year around and not just in the summer on the Riviera, where you hid under a beachside gazebo and chilled your wine with ice cubes.
There are two ways to make rosé: The first is to remove the skins when the juice from the crushed red/black grapes is exactly the desired color. This is usually after one to three days. The second method is the “bleeding” method where the winemaker withdraws some of the juice from the barrel while the remaining juice continues to turn red. The wine remaining in the barrel becomes a more intense wine with the volume reduced, and the wine that was removed becomes rosé.
Therefore, while the color has no bearing on the flavor or alcohol content, it is the key to eye’s visual pleasure. In Bordeaux, they also distinguish between the rosés and clarets: for the former, the grapes are “bled” before fermentation (as in Provence), and for the latter, they are “bled” after fermentation.
The challenge of producing a good rosé
It is extremely difficult to produce a good rosé. The talented winemaker must start with healthy grapes from good varietals and terroirs. Using very costly cooling equipment, the wine must be maintained at perfect temperatures to capture the aromas that would normally vaporize. Do not be surprised that prices for good rosés may seem high – the extra care in making them earns many rosés special distinction as Crus Classés from Provence.
Provence produces 80% of French rosés. Nowhere else in the world can one find the same incredibly delicate pale pinks, the clarity, the diversity of flavors and aromatic complexity. The type of soil, historic grape varieties and expertise put the rosés from Provence in a class all of their own.
As our tastes evolve, more and more women appreciate and buy wine influenced by new exotic fusion dishes, Asian cuisines, and molecular gastronomy. The dry rosé wines – charming, aromatic and shimmering – became a natural choice for French women and soon seduced Europe, and then Japan and other Asian countries. Rosé is becoming the truly trendy feminine wine.
The spirit of rosé is the spirit of our times
Rosé is loved by women, and by men who love women, because rosé is consumed for pure pleasure. It is associated with positive, friendly and casual moments. More recently, rosé is being adapted by women as an important part of the Provencal lifestyle, a wonderfully attractive way of decorating one’s home and preparing cuisine. For these women, it is a wine to share immediate pleasure and real life. Rosé is the most accessible wine, and its beautiful color creates a link with the pink that often surrounded us in our early childhood. Women who drink rosé want to make themselves and others happy, and they wish to define and choose their own pleasures.
With rosé, there is something for every taste
There’s something for everyone’s tastes: a rosé for thirst, snacks, aromatic appetizers or with raw vegetables, and elaborate salads. There are more complex and full-bodied rosés for accompanying most dinners but not necessarily great with fish. More and more excellent rosés are now being produced organically and with biodynamic farming methods.
Traditionally, rosés are drunk slightly chilled (9-11 C. or ), and they keep pretty well. They rarely improve with age so nothing is gained by waiting to drink them. However, be aware that they can have a relatively high alcohol content as the majority of today’s wines come from increasingly mature grapes. The high degree is not noticed much when consumed at the right temperature. At 11.5° or 12°, yesterday’s rosés were considered thirst-quenchers that we only drank in the summer. Today, at 13.5° or 14°, I classify them in the dining wine category that can be enjoyed throughout the year.