It’s not an uncommon hashtag. You can see it in online, in print, sponsoring events, in snapchat stories, and strewn throughout social media. Regardless of its sudden rise in popularity, rose wines have been produced for a very long time and can have a wide range of styles and characteristics. Let's take a moment and talk about the history, vinification, and enjoyment of this elegant style of wine.
When rose wine was first made is unknown and difficult to pinpoint, but is without a doubt a very old style. red wine, with its dark hues and heavy tannins as we know today were uncommon and generally undesirable in ancient times, and because of this, most “red wine” produced at the time was more similar to rose than today's standard reds. To understand why, let us understand how these wines are made, and how they can range in color from pale salmon to neon red.
Where does color in wine come from? The skins! There are chemical compounds in the skins of wine that can be leached out into the wine by crushing the grapes and letting the juice sit with the skins. This process is called maceration, and it is one of the most common ways to get anthocyanins and tannins into the wine. While the red wine you are most assuredly familiar with will spend many days or even weeks sitting with the skins, most rose will see only twelve to twenty four hours with the skins. It is important to note that the compounds in grape skins also help wine last longer when exposed to oxygen, so roses are not wines for ageing. The maceration in rose gives the wine color, more pronounced body, and a wide array of fruit flavors. While there are other less common ways to make rose like bleeding (saignee) and blending, the early pressing and maceration is the most common. Now that you have a rough understanding of how roses are made, lets cover how you should enjoy them.
One of my mantras is that you should enjoy wine the way you want and not take snooty wine people (like myself) too seriously. That being said, let's talk about the styles and flavors you can look for in quality rose. Though most people look for the salmon colored roses of Provence and steer clear of the blush red hues from Tavel, color actually has very little to do with flavors in the wine. There is, however, a lot of supporting research that the color of a wine affects people's perception of it. Almost all rose is dry. Some rose can show more floral notes and red fruit, but compared to traditionally sweet grapes, they are quite dry. To find your favorite rose, I believe you need to balance 3 elements: fruit, minerality, and dryness will build a delightful rose, and the intensity of each should be dictated by personal preference.
At Potash Markets, We carry a deep selection of roses from all over the world. We have a strong focus on the different French roses but also Italian, South American, South African, domestic, any many more. Come in today and find an old favorite or explore something new. No matter what you like, the sales squad and I will work hard to make sure we help you find it.
John H.S Reed
Beer, Wine, and Spirits Buyer
WSET Level 2
875 N State Street