First published in The Irish Times, Saturday, 2nd June, 2018
Is there anything more summery than a bottle of chilled rosé? Wine producers lament the fact that we Irish will only crack it open when the sun comes out and the temperature rises – and that doesn’t happen very often.
They argue that rosé is a great wine 12 months of the year, and they have a point; rosé goes really well with a variety of foods, including warm-weather salads, but with most chicken and shellfish dishes too.
It can also make a great partner for mildly-spiced curries and Asian dishes. Medium-bodied rosé is incredibly versatile, matching up perfectly with grilled and barbecued white meats, paella and risotto, as well as pâtés, charcuterie and goat’s cheese. And of course, it makes a great aperitif or party wine. As some of them are off-dry, they can be easier to drink solo or with nibbles than a nerve-jangling crisp acidic white wine.
Yet there is something distinctly sunny about rosé. While posh versions are all the rage (see this week’s Irish Times summer food guide for Whispering Angel) I have a soft spot for light uncomplicated inexpensive rosé, sipped well-chilled while sitting in the shade on a hot sunny day.
There are plenty of decent inexpensive rosés to be found, although I would steer clear of the really cheap, sweet versions. Marks & Spencer held its annual spring wine tasting recently and included a range of wines priced at €7-€7.50. Normally wines in this category are fairly anodyne, if not very confected, but I was very taken with the House Rosé, along with several white wines. M&S also showed the very gluggable low-alcohol (9.5 per cent) Forrest Marlborough Pinot Noir Rosé, one of the best low-alcohol wines I have tasted.
Aldi has three rosés, all for less than €9; as well as the Côtes de Provence listed below, the Exquisite Touraine Rosé (€8.49) is worth trying out.
SuperValu has a rosé promotion (ends July 7th), with 10 wines, including the excellent Graham Norton Marlborough Rosé (€10), the very elegant, smooth La Petite Perriere (€8), and the crisp, dry Bendel (€10) from Provence. In addition, they stock the recently arrived fruit-filled Santa Rita Rosé 2017 (€12.50) from Chile, as does Tesco.
O’Briens off-licence runs a summer-long rosé promotion every year, offering a second bottle at half-price. I featured the Hedonisme Rosé from Gérard Bertrand in the food magazine, and the Chateau Rioter below is a tasty option, but I also enjoyed the food-friendly Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir Rosé (€15.95, buy one, get one at half price).
Lastly while I am not completely convinced by expensive rosé, for me the finest rosé of all is pink Champagne, and a glass of the Veuve Clicquot Rosé below would go down very well on a balmy summer evening.
Four rosés wine to try
Marks & Spencer House Rosé
Essence of summer. Light fresh strawberry fruits and a clean dry finish. Perfect on its own or with lighter salads with prawns or other shellfish. Stockists: Marks & Spencer
Aldi Exquisite Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Attractive relatively full-bodied rosé with rich ripe strawberry fruits and a rounded finish. Perfect with barbecued white meats, and richer seafood dishes. Stockists: Aldi
Ch. Rioter 2017, Côtes de Provence
13%, €17.95 – buy one get one half price
Very attractive medium to light-bodied rosé with raspberry and red cherry fruits, finishing dry. A great all-purpose summer wine to match with chicken, pork or richer fish, such as salmon or tuna. Stockists: O’Briens
Veuve Cliquot Champagne Rosé NV
A very elegant Champagne with refined strawberry and raspberry fruits, alongside subtle notes of biscuits and toasted almonds. Perfect with poached salmon and a hollandaise sauce. Stockists: O’Briens, obrienswine.ie; 64 Wine, Glasthule, 64wine.ie; Le Caveau, Kilkenny, lecaveau.ie; Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove, Avoca, Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne, mitchellandson.com; Redmond’s, Ranelagh; Molloys Liquor Stores, molloys.ie; Tesco.