First published in The Irish Times, Saturday 22nd July, 2017
I cast my net fairly wide to find some nice rosés to drink over the summer months. Last week, I focused on the trendy rosés of Provence. Today, a wider look at the world through pink goggles. Often ignored as simple and frivolous, particularly by men it must be said, (isn’t wine supposed to be fun?) rosé is the essence of summer, great for sipping in the shade on a hot day, or with light salads and cold meats and fish. It comes in all shapes and sizes, from the palest, lightly tinged, almost white, to deeply-coloured salmon-pink wines. Colour is not always an accurate guide, but generally the deeper the colour, the more fruit and flavour in the wine. Rosé varies from delicate to powerful, and from bone-dry to sweet. It also depends on the winemaking.
The most common way to make a rosé wine is to leave the grape skins in contact with the freshly crushed juice for a short period; this can be anything from two to 12 hours. It is possible to use any red grape but some are more suitable than others. Grapes with thick skins can add too much colour and unwanted tannins very quickly. Once removed from the skins, the wine is then fermented as a white wine. A second closely related method is saignée, French for bled. For this, a winemaker bleeds off a small amount of free-run juice from freshly crushed, but unpressed red grapes. The resulting rosé wine can be very good, and the bonus for the winemaker is that the remaining grapes will have a higher concentration of colour and fruit for a red wine.
Dollops and charcoal
Two other, less common, methods are blending and charcoal. Blending simply means adding a small dollop of red wine to white. This is banned in some countries, but widely practised for Champagne and other sparkling wines. Although this method is dismissed by some, it certainly makes for some very good pink Champagne. Charcoal is occasionally used to remove colour (or off-flavours) from a wine. The problem is it removes some of the fruit as well. One last method, rarely used, and very hard to control, is simply fermenting red and white grapes together.
Mitchell & Son has a new range of wines from Trudie Styler and Sting from their estate in Tuscany, under the name Beppé , including the very stylish light dry Rosato below. This is mainly Sangiovese, a grape that can produce delicious rosé.
The intriguing Vaglio rosé below is made from a bewildering array of grapes; 40 per cent Malbec, 25 per cent Pinot Noir, 20 per cent Cabernet Sauvignon with 13 per cent Syrah and 2 per cent of the white grape Torrontés. The person responsible is José Lovaglio, the son of highly regarded winemaker Susana Balbo.
A very pale colour with delicate lively fresh juicy red fruits and an off-dry finish.
Stockists: Marks & Spencer.
Perfumed with lovely delicate light strawberry and apple fruits.
Stockists: Mitchell & Son, chq, Sandycove, Avoca Kilmacanogue and Dunboyne; Sheridan’s, Galway.
13.5 per cent (€22.50)
Complex fresh red fruits, plenty of lively acidity and a dry finish. Perfection with a plate of meze?
A delicious Cabernet Merlot blend at a great price. Light but full of red and white peach fruits with a dry finish. Great summer drinking.
Stockist: Wines Direct, Mullingar & Arnott’s, Dublin.