A Rose Is A Rose Is A Rose

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What should we expect when we open a bottle of chilled rosé?

Something dark purple and rich, or something pale-salmon coloured? Sweet or dry, barrel aged or not, simple or complex? And what grape should it be made from? Shiraz, grenache, mourvedre, cabernet, sangiovese, nebbiolo, tempranillo, malbec, dolcetto – or blends thereof?

These are all used for making rosé somewhere in this country. There’s even a bastardo! Good rosé doesn’t seem to be too varietally dependent. And there are many styles.

Happily, most come in a clear bottle so you can see the colour. If it’s dark, the wine is likely to be a bigger style of rosé, more like a light-bodied low-tannin red wine (see Charles Melton Rose of Virginia (tastings), Woods Crampton Mataro Rosé (tastings), and Maxwell Where’s Molly? (tastings). These all go superbly with fuller-flavoured foods, but they challenge the definition of rosé.

I tend to favour pale-coloured, delicate rosé styles with refreshing properties. This means little or no discernible sugar, but it also means none of that piercing, sour, added-acid taste so common in these wines. It means lightness and balance, and that all-important but not very scientific attribute: quaffability! My favourites from about 40 rosés tasted include Alex Head’s Head Grenache Rosé (tastings) and Krinklewood’s Francesca (tastings).

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