Rosé wine: everything you need to know
olive's wine expert on why crisp, easy drinking rosé goes well with all manner of summer dishes, plus the best bottles to buy
Our wine expert Kate Hawkings gives us advice on the best rosé wines to drink this summer, from pale Provence rosé to Sicilian, Spanish and Australian varieties.
Rosé was once rather scorned by the wine trade, deemed to be frivolous and intrinsically inferior to more ‘serious’ reds and whites. Now it’s perhaps the most fashionable wine around, with sales soaring yearly and each summer bringing yet more interesting pinks for us all to enjoy.
Provence is rosé’s spiritual home and for many its wines are the benchmark of what rosé should be – very light in colour and body, and dry and refreshing enough see you through a long afternoon in the sun, with or without light, summery food. This is the style that the world loves best, with producers such as Mirabeau, Minuty and Whispering Angel leading the march making excellent, chicly branded Provençal rosés.
Styles from other areas are well worth drinking, too. The Loire valley makes all manner, from off-dry, floral, strawberry-scented rosé d’anjou, to supremely elegant and refined wines from Touraine and Saumur, while Corsica is worth watching for its wonderful herbaceous rosés made from the native Sciacarello grape.
Rosé is usually made from red grapes that are gently crushed so only a little colour from the skins gets into the juice as it passes through the press. A very pale colour is often seen as an indicator of quality but this is not always the case. The grape skins also contain flavour compounds and tannins which add weight and structure, and some regions, such as Taval in the southern Rhône, leave the juice on the skins for several days to make beautiful dark pink rosés that have complexity and gravitas, and are a good way to win round deniers who’d prefer a glass of red whatever the weather. Generally the drier and paler the wine is the more delicate it’s likely to be, and so is best suited to salads and simply served seafood, while darker rosés from hot countries such as Australia and Chile tend to be riper and more overtly fruity, often with a touch of sweetness that goes really well with spicy dishes. Having said that, rosés are surprisingly versatile with food, so don’t get too hung up on seeking the perfect match.
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Best rosé wines to try
This new release from award- winning Hampshire winery Hattingley makes for opulent celebratory fizz, whether you are sharing a bottle for Valentine’s (or even galentine’s). A pale pink with delicate bubbles and crisp notes of red apple and fresh strawberry.
A classy gem from Corsica, this is aged in large oak foudres to give structure and a silky texture to its savoury berry fruits.
Made in Croatia, this unusual blend of Pinot Noir and the Austrian grape Zweigelt is very pale but has lots to say: pretty notes of roses, apricots, lemon zest and a little soft spice.
Fabulous full-bodied tavel, deep pink with plenty of ripe fruit and a little tannic grip, this is brilliant with robust, smoky flavours at a barbecue.
From Touraine in the Loire valley, a blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec (locally known as Cot) and Gamay grapes. Prettily perfumed but crisp and elegant.
Made from native Sicilian Nerello Mascalese grapes, this sings with tart redcurrants, raspberries and juicy peaches along with an invigorating mineral finish.
Full of juicy berry fruits with a little gentle spritz. Great for summer drinking in the sun with light dishes.
Prettily pale but with plenty of vibrant raspberry and redcurrant fruits, a great example of Sancerre rośe that comes with the region’s trademark crisp minerality. Try it with our spiced fish cakes with carrot and cucumber salad.
Cabernet franc and gamay are blended in this bargain rosé. Full of summery berries and sunshine, it’s a top match for honey masala chicken with tangy corn and mango.
Lively and well balanced, think strawberries and cream with a pleasing herbaceous astringency.
Gorgeous scents of strawberries and mountain herbs in this pretty 0.5%-ABV wine that’ll transport you back to summer.
Strawberries and rose petals come together in this gorgeous English sparkler – a great aperitif or as a partner to the strawberry and elderflower eton mess.
Wildly expensive for most budgets but cheaper than a trip to St Tropez. A fabulous special-occasion treat with herby greens and pecorino risotto.
Pure by name and pure by nature, this is classic Provençal drinking. Delicate without being insipid, try it with Portuguese seafood rice.
Great value from this reliable Rioja producer, this is my go-to knock-back rosé on sunny days. Warm aubergine, pomegranate and onion salad would pair well.