Virgin Wines: Rose Wine
It wasn't that long ago that rose wine was considered unfashionable and unsophisticated and the ultimate faux pas was taking a bottle of rose to a party. However, things have changed in the world of rose, so much so that in France in 2008 sales of rose wine outstripped those of white wine for the very first time.
Light or Dark
Rose wine is made from crushing red grapes. However, unlike with red wine, where the grape skins and juice are fermented to create an intense colour, only brief contact is allowed between the grape skins and the juice, meaning that the colour of the wine is generally fairly clear. That said, the extent of this does vary from wine to wine and the greater the degree of the contact, the darker the colour of the rose. This helps explain why some roses will be a very pale shade of pink, while others will be much darker and almost red.
Red or white?
Rose might be prettier than its white and red rivals, but it shows clear similarities between the two. The fact that it is made from red grapes suggests that it is more like a red wine. However the fact that rose wine lacks the tannin, structure and depth of red wine, plus the fact that it is best served chilled, suggest that rose wine more closely resembles white wine. Even though its identity might not be clear, the good thing is that no matter whether you are a red or white drinker, the chances are that you will probably like rose.
Dry or Sweet?
Rose wine comes in varying styles from very dry to sickly sweet.
In the 1940s Mateus Rose, a medium-sweet, slightly sparkling rose wine from Portugal, was all the rage and was definitely the thing to be seen drinking. But it was in the 1970s when the demand for medium-sweet rose wines really took off. Several large Californian wine estates capitalised on this trend and big brands of sweet rose started dominating the supermarket shelves.
The spiritual home of rose is Loire in France though and the village of Anjou in particular has become famous for its rose wine production. More than a half of the wine production from this area is now dedicated to this style and while the wines from this region were traditionally sweet, more recently there has been a shift to off dry and dry styles.
This trend has followed elsewhere in the wine world. After a couple of decades out of favour in the fashion stakes, a rose revival over the last few years has centred around a lot drier styles of rose wine. These are typically being produced in the south of France, in regions such as the Languedoc and Provence, and in Australia. Spain and South Africa are also producing some deliciously refreshing fruity roses.
On its Own or With Food?
Rose wine is the perfect all rounder when it comes to matching with food - probably because of the fact that it shows both red and white wine properties. Whether you are serving nibbles or a feast, hot or cold dishes, or meat or vegetables, rose will be a tasty match. In fact, few other styles of wine are so versatile.