First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 9th July, 2016
Sales of rosé wines in this country have increased a little in recent years, but still remain stubbornly low at 4-5% of sales. This is largely made up of those drinking inexpensive sweet “white” Zinfandel all year round, and by occasional bursts of general pink drinking when the sun makes an appearance in our skies.
We drink the colour as much as the wine; there is something quintessentially summery about a rosé wine, drunk well-chilled over a lunch outside in the sun. I am constantly being told that rosé is much more than that, and we should be drinking it the year round. It is one of the most adaptable of wines, perfect with all sorts of food, but somehow I cannot bring myself to drink it on a wet January evening.
Rosé comes in more styles than one. Leaving aside the aforementioned sweet Californians, elsewhere just about every country has had a go at making rosé; ranging from light and crisp to full-bodied and sometimes fairly alcoholic. Today we concentrate on French rosé.
The lightest, which would include the Bordeaux and Provence rosé below, is very similar in makeup to a crisp dry white wine; these go very well with lighter salads, including seafood, as well as more delicate pasta and rice dishes.More fruity and full-bodied rosés can go with a wide variety of foods, including grilled or barbecued chicken and pork, all of those southern French classics with anchovies, olives, garlic and herbs. They also go nicely with cold meats, pâtés and other charcuterie. I also find they are good match with slightly spicy dishes including curries.
Much has been made of Provençal rosé, usually dry and sometimes very expensive. I have yet to be convinced that any rosé is worth €30 or more. To me it is frivolous and fun, and that means less than €20. The Domaine d’Eole below does offer very good value for money. Look out too for the Mirabeau Rosé from O’Briens, at a price that works out at €12.71 if you buy two bottles. Marks & Spencer have the very tasty Coteaux Varois en Provence 2015 for €12.49. Tavel, a small town in the southern Rhône, traditionally made the most powerful, alcoholic rosés. The appellation here is exclusively for rosé wines. They have gone out of fashion, and most of the wines are lighter, although full of fruit, as with the Tavel below. Those from the Loire tend to be light and crisp.Rosé d’Anjou is usually a bit too sweet for my tastes, but Sancerre rosé, made with Pinot Noir, can be exquisite, and certainly worth the money. Alsace also produces some beautifully fragrant Pinot Noir rosé.
Very attractive exuberant strawberry fruits with a dry finish. Great with or without food.
Stockists: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown
The deepest colour, with concentrated red cherry fruits. With herby Provençal salads.
Stockists: Wines on the Green; Dicey Reilly; McCabes; Nectar Wines, Nolans Supermarket.
The palest of colours, with sour cherry and plum fruits. Delicate, dry and moreish.
Stockists: Grapevine, Dalkey.
Light clean refreshing summer fruits. Perfect al fresco drinking.