First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 12th July, 2018
We tend to buy rosé by colour. If the wine is very pale salmon pink, it will be dry; cherry-red and it must be sweet. It isn’t quite that simple, but it is a good starting point. Rosé wines vary hugely in their sugar content and it isn’t always easy to work out which is dry and which is sweet. One useful indicator is origin. California blush is generally sweet, as is Rosé d’Anjou and Mateus Rosé, while pale Provence Rosé is bone-dry. In between there is a host of pleasantly fruity dry wines that are perfect for summer drinking. The success of Provence rosé seems to have convinced some of us that this is the only pink to drink, but there are plenty of other options, including Spanish Rosado, that are every bit as good – and frequently a lot cheaper.
If your memories of Spanish rosé (Rosado in Spanish) are of cheap plonk guzzled on holidays on the costas, then it is time to think again. Spain has a long tradition of making rosado, and today makes some very good wines. The Navarra region made its name producing fruity, dry rosés, apparently a tradition that goes back to the 12th century, when it slated the thirst of pilgrims walking the Camino. These days, Navarra also makes some really good red and white wines, but is still best-known for rosados. The grape variety involved is usually Garnacha, or sometimes Tempranillo. Other parts of Spain, from Catalunya to Alicante have got in on the act and now offer some very stylish rosados. In the past, clarete, made either by fermenting red and white grapes together, as with the wine below, or by simply blending red and white wine, was very popular.
The best Spanish rosados have masses of ripe red fruits – cherries, strawberries and raspberries yet finish bone-dry. This means they go really well with savoury foods. Dry rosé in general is one of the most food-friendly wines of all, perfect with all kinds of summer salads as well as milder Asian dishes. Not surprisingly, Rosado goes very well with various Spanish foods, including mixed tapas, seafood and of course paella.
As well as the wines below, Tesco has the Revero Tempranillo Rosado for an incredible €3.99, and O’Briens the Finca Vadmoya for €9.95. Look out in independents for the excellent Lopez de Haro for about €16. Wines Direct (Mullingar, Arnotts and online), has the very tasty Olivares Rosado for €12.50.
If you do find yourself in Spain this summer desperately looking for a Spanish Rosado, the Torres Sangre de Toro, not available here in Ireland, is a good inexpensive bet.
Gran Fuedo Rosado 2017, Navarra
Very attractive, refreshing, light strawberry fruits with a bone-dry finish. Serve well-chilled with tapas and grilled white fish.
Stockists: Very widely available through independents including McHughs, Kilbarrack Road and Malahide Road, mchughs.ie; 1601 Off-licence, Kinsale; Matson’s Wine Store, Cork, matsonswinesandbeer.com; Burke Londis, Kinvara, Galway; Daly’s, Boyle, Co Roscommon; Ardkeen Stores, Waterford; Eldons, Clonmel; Higgins, Clonskeagh; Shiel’s Londis, Malahide; The Coach House, Ballinteer, thecoach.ie.
Montesierra Selección Rosado 2017, Somontano
Medium-bodied stewed red cherry and strawberry fruit. Rounded and smooth. Try it with grilled salmon, sea trout or mackerel.
La Maldición Clarete, 2017, Viños de Madrid
A captivating rosado (or clarete) with real interest. Relatively full-bodied with light tannins and concentrated savoury strawberry fruits. This went really well with a mozzarella and tomato salad on a warm summer’s evening.
Sonrojo Garnacha 2017, Navarra
Wonderful pure freshly crushed raspberry and strawberry fruits with a lively acidity and a snappy dry finish. I could drink this all summer long. Cold chicken with panzanella.
Stockists: Baggot Street Wines, Baggot Street, baggotstreetwines.com; Liston’s, Camden Street, listonsfoodstore.ie; Kelly’s, Clontarf, kellysofflicence.ie; Green Man Wines, Terenure, greenmanwines.ie.