Our drinks expert, Rob Buckhaven, explains why rosé is THE wine to be drinking this summer and unearths the best bottles from around the world to try right now…
Call me an optimist, but with two bank holidays just gone, in my book we are firmly on the cusp of summer. As far as I’m concerned, where there are longer, lighter days and al fresco dining to be found, there’s usually a crisp bottle of rosé to become reacquainted with. Rosé is made from a process of gently pressing the black grapes so only a teasing amount of colour and minimal lip-drying tannins are picked up from the skins. In Europe, it isn’t possible to make rosé through blending a red and white wine; even though, bizarrely, pink Champagne producers are allowed to use this very method.
Although now becoming more complex than the personality-light styles of yesterday, rosé remains a wine not to be taken too seriously or fussed over for its potential to develop. It should be daisy-fresh and ripe fruit-driven; made for instantaneous guzzling. As for rosé and food matching, as a rule of thumb, the gutsier and deeper-coloured the wine, the easier it is to pair with delectable spring/ summer dishes.
Produced in the majority of wine-making countries, there are some delicious rosé specimens around these days, and the best part is that they represent some serious value for money. It does pay to veer away from the over-exposed brands on our shelves and focus instead on the smaller producers for more complex and interesting offerings.
Spain is a great one for producing gutsier, man-friendly rosés that tend to complement a wide variety of dishes. The colour and flavour of Spanish rosados are like that of a lighter red wine and are ideal for the men-folk to quaff while turning the sausages on the barbecue. Try a strawberry-packed Garnacha rosé, which usually comes with a rather approachable price tag.
France is now coming up with some elegant styles of rosé, particularly from the Rhône, Provence and the Loire. Plump for a Grenache Syrah with a lighter salmon-pink hue for Salade Niçoise pairing, or a Sancerre Pinot Noir rosé for some classic, sun-down relaxation. From Provence you’ll find rosé in its palest form, where elegant rosewood and damp hay underpin fresh red berry fruit. This is sought-after stuff, which unfortunately requires deeper pockets for the pleasure.
Portugal is refusing to be a one-trick rosé pony and has come along in leaps and bounds, now producing some drier and less spritzy pinks than once famed. Delicious and fruit-stacked, the wines are luckily less of a mouthful than the names of the local grapes they are made from, many of which are largely unpronounceable.
New world countries, such as Argentina and Chile, are producing some robust and well-structured rosés to go with barbecued meats and the zestiest of marinades. A Chilean Cabernet Rosé has great depth and is a fine ally to just about any food you throw at it; allowing you to make as big a meal of it as you like!
Presenter and author Rob Buckhaven is passionate about food and drink, and appears regularly as a wine expert on TV, and as a newspaper and magazine columnist. He can also be found hosting shows across the country, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste and Jamie Oliver’s Big Feastival. Follow him on Twitter at @robbuckhaven