Pale and interesting, and preferably Provençal, is the bottle chic imbibers want to be seen with in Instagrammable settings today. But apart from looking pretty (ever wonder why rosés are bottled in clear glass?) does the colour actually make any difference to the wine in your glass?
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Well, the answer (of course, this is wine!) is 'yes' and 'no'. Buyer Marcel Orford-Williams, who looks after our patch of pinks, explains: 'You make rosé as deep or as pale as you like. All rosé is made from red grapes (the juice of all grapes, with a very few notable exceptions called 'teinturiers', is clear), so the length of time that the juice stays in contact with the skins will determine the depth of colour.'
Choice of grape has an influence on colour and flavour too, as does climate; hotter weather usually leads to riper, more pigmented grapes. And there's a lot the winemaker can do both in judging when to pick and what to do in the cellar that also has an influence.
Marcel continues, 'to make rosé is not complicated, but making really good rosé is pretty technical, requiring a steady hand and a focused mind. Rosé shouldn't be an afterthought or pale imitation of the 'real (red) thing'. In fact it needs meticulous planning and execution.
Getting the grapes right is crucial
Like all good-quality wines, adding value starts in the vineyard where plots (often the best) are specifically selected for rosé production. Getting the right grapes is crucial – in the south of France cinsault often takes the lead as it can deliver wonderful fragrance and delicacy; it's also pale in colour. Follow the growers who set out to make rosé not those for whom it is a by-product of their main production. Done properly, rosé, rosado, rosato, or plain pink, can be thrilling, complex, savoury and sophisticated; wines for any occasion.
A darker pink colour became synonymous with white zinfandels and other ‘blush’ wines made from the 1970s onwards, often in California. They were typically soft, easy-drinking wines – popular maybe, but often fruity sugar-bombs, unappealing to wine drinkers who preferred a more classic dry style.
This meant the pale, dry Provence style came back with a bang as a fresher, more elegant alternative. But it also meant that other darker rosés have been sadly overlooked for too long, and they’re resurfacing to prove that they can do savoury, nuanced and delicious just as well as their onion-skinned relatives!
Provence – a timeless classic
This leads us back to the Med, the heartland of pinks, originally produced to compensate for the lack of whites, and to Provence in particular, the biggest producer of rosé in the world. So even without celebrity endorsements, aspirational packaging and bottled dreams of life on the Med, the pull of Provence does make perfectly good pink sense. Just don’t let the colour fool your tastebuds!
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