by Jhon: Rosé, that underrated “Pink Wine”

Rosé, Rosato, Rosado, what is it? Rosé comes from the word pink, in French, but to get a full grasp of this delicious wine, let’s briefly take a peek at its history.

So, this is how it came about. In 600 B.C. the ancient Greeks brought grapes and vines in the South of France, particularly in the city of Marseille. Since then, the art and culture of winemaking became a central part of the region and soon developed a reputation for its quality (Note: Wine during this period was pale in color, resembling today’s rosé wine).

After the Greeks, the Romans arrived bringing with them their red wine. The region was then called Provincia Romana, which later became Provence. After the Romans, came various invaders all of whom contributed to the region’s wine culture. Despite the many influences and from various sectors, the rosé remained at the heart of wine production in the region and in the 14th century, the foundations for the modern day viticulture (the science, study, and production of wine) began when the nobles and military leaders acquired vast areas of vineyards. Soon, rosé became the wine of kings and the prestigious.

Unfortunately, rosé wine didn’t always have the best reputation outside of France especially during the 70s, 80s and 90s. Rosé, most notably in California was massed produced, low in quality, cheap, and too sweet. Most people who drink wine probably came across a White Zinfandel. It was this “blush wine” that unfortunately left a disappointing impression of rosé.

In the Southern Coast of France (Provence) where one can sample the incredible and the best rosés has breathed new life to the appreciation of rosé wine

Nowadays, the rosé is making a strong comeback; the constant influx of tourists in the Southern Coast of France (Provence) where one can sample the incredible and the best rosés has breathed new life to the appreciation of rosé wine. Along with modern farming techniques mixed with traditional practices, the quality of rosé has increased. Now, almost every winemaking region in the world has found new respect for the rosé and is now producing them with better standards.

Rosé wine are made in the similar manner as that of red wine, with a slight difference. The most common practice is maceration, wherein grapes are first destemmed and crushed, then the grape juice is left in contact with the skin for a few hours before pressing, and the process is the same as making white wine. The length of time the grape juice is left to macerate is the difference between red wine and rosé.

Right about now, you’re probably curious about what makes a good rosé.

Rosé wine vary in different shades, from salmon to red berries depending on the type of grape used and style of making them. Rosé also isn’t the type of wine you want to keep in the cellar for a long period of time, so don’t get any ideas about cellaring them for years as they do not age well.

It is best enjoyed a year to three years maximum from the year on its label. Fresh, is the name of the game. Most rosé wine are produced dry, in other words, not sweet. It’s the freshness and crisp characteristics that you want to look for in a good rosé. However, there are fruity rosés that are also highly enjoyable. If you like it sweet, it is out there if that is what you prefer.

Now that you got the basics down, you may want to know what bottle you should grab. Here in the Philippines, rosé wine much to my dismay isn’t abundant but you can find a few bottles in different stores across the city. Some come from South America, Spain, Australia, and, of course, France. What you want to look for is the most recent year, 2014 for example; avoid picking up a bottle that was produced say in 2009, even if they are on a discount. Yep, some stores still do sell them. They are past that period wherein it can be enjoyed or even be drinkable. When in doubt, always go for the French rosés, particularly from Provence, Rhône, Anjou (Loire Valley), or Bordeaux. You can grab some at selected stores, bars, restaurants; you just have to be a little patient. They are relatively easy on the pocket and you can score a decent to a good bottle starting from Php400. If you want to splurge a little, I suggest you buy rosé champagne particularly Veuve Cliquot or Moet & Chandon; trust me you won’t go wrong with these.

After you have picked up that bottle, keep it chilled! The best way to enjoy it is when it’s cold (8-13 degrees Celsius). You would want to keep it in a fridge for an hour or two, or in an ice bucket for about 15-30 minutes. This is precisely why rosé wine is perfect on a hot summer day; summer is the best time to drink it. Once you feel it cold enough, pop it open and marvel at its color, take a sniff and notice the scents that range from strawberries, raspberries, and even grapefruit. Swirl it a bit to air it out and take a sniff again, the aromas should be heightened a little bit more. Then finally, take a sip and enjoy the freshness it has to offer. At this point you should be enjoying the thirst quenching properties of this chic and elegant wine.

You may ask, what if I want to pair it with food? Rosé is quite versatile and forgiving, you can pair it with almost anything – salad, cheese, seafood, Asian cuisine and lightly grilled meat. If you want something more specific, here are my suggestions: soft cheeses such as Camembert, Brie, or Burrata; shellfish, grilled lamb and chicken, and of course, charcuterie (i.e. bacon, ham, terrines, sausages, etc.).

Now that we have covered all bases, it’s time for you to go out and explore the world of rosé wine. Don’t pay any attention to its previous “bad reputation.” Rosé, especially in France is highly respected; it is elegant, chic, hip, and perfect for an aperitif on summer days. Living in Manila where it’s hot all year is the perfect place to enjoy this wine. Whether you’re at the beach or in the city, this wine promises to be enjoyable at any time of the day. It is easy to drink, light on the pocket, and immensely refreshing. Plus, it looks pretty too.

Remember, drinking wine is a matter of personal preference. All you have to do is go out there and explore the world of wine, and you’re bound to find a bottle that’s right for you. Till then, Santé!

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A feature story was first published in Mega Magazine, August 2015 issue.