A rosé revolution: the five styles of pink wine

Rosé may have a reputation of being a fun drink with little sophistication but a new wave of winemakers are bucking the trend by using various methods to add complexity to the wine. We consider the five styles on the market today. By Elizabeth Gabay MW

Rosé wine is always fresh, crisp, with little complexity and lots of fun appeal – right? Dismissed as a non-serious wine, it has nevertheless soared ahead in sales because it is so easily appreciated by a younger, less-knowledgeable market, with gimmicks such as Frosé and Brosé keeping it fun.

Up until now, any move to make this wine more serious has hit a few marketing challenges, but, the time is right to look at different rosé styles.

A small quantity of interesting and complex range of rosés are emerging, as the need for a gastronomic or ‘wine-rosé’ to accompany a meal, rather than an aperitif-style, has encouraged producers to try different styles.

This is not simply ageing a rosé in oak, which has often resulted in a rosé that is out of balance, with the oak dominating the attractive fruity charm, and given oaked rosés a bad reputation, but looking afresh from the beginning at making rosé. The key is to have a wine-rosé with the weight, complexity and ageing potential to deal with the oak.

This is often achieved by using older vines, lower yields and vinification methods, resulting in more complex wines. When these wine-rosés are introduced to oak, we start to see exciting new styles emerge. Paul Chevalier, of Shaw-Ross, American distributor for Château d’Esclans, says the key to marketing oaked rosés is to recognise that the wine is different in style and quality to most commercial rosés, and has a unique identity.

Nicholas Paris MW and sommelier, says he looks for the, “red fruits and freshness normally found in unoaked versions, but with a little more spice and exotic aromas on the nose and greater body, structure and complexity on the palate. Oaked rosés can stand up to, and complement, well-seasoned or spicier dishes.” He is not alone, and feels sommeliers on the whole get more, “excited about oaked rosés, not excessively oaky rosés, but those with greater complexity, broader characteristics and tertiary notes too”.

These rosés also show an ability to age better and to develop even more complex characters. It becomes apparent with tastings of rosés that are vinified and/or aged in oak, that there is no single oaked rosé style.

Winemaking is important, but there is plenty of variation and experimentation with old or young barrels, type of wood, size, fermentation, lees stirring or just ageing.

Five general styles emerge:
• Rosés with invisible oak
• Rosé with overt oak character
• Rosés in a light red-wine style
• Traditional rosés
• Modern rosés in a traditional style

5 Responses to “A rosé revolution: the five styles of pink wine”

  1. Dear friends, mrs Elizabeth Gabay MW, I’m an Italian wine writer, special passionate of rosé wines.
    I have read your article but I must say, with great sorrow, that this article is not credible because inexplicably forget (and I don’t know why, very heavy error for a Master of wine) to consider the world of Italian rosés, that I have not any inferiority complex in front of any rosé wines of the world.
    In the panorama of five styles of Rosé, today, a serious wine magazine and a serious wine writer or MW, MUST insert wines and appellation like Valtènesi Chiaretto, Bardolino Chiaretto on Garda Lake, Lagrein Kretzer in South Tyrol, the great Montepulciano Cerasuolo in Abruzzo, the Salento rosés, and rosé of Castel del Monte or Nero di Troia appellations in Apulia, Cirò rosato in Calabria and Rosè wines from stunning Nerello Mascalese grape in vulcan Etna side in Sicily.
    Only for quote the most important, but who may other excellent, surprising, personal rosés there are in Italy! Many also on English market
    So, I ask you the effort of better consider the Italian wine scene the next time you want write about Rosés
    My point of wiew is not italo-centric, but objective…
    Thank you for you kind attention and all the best

  2. It’s incredible how you can speak so long to rosè wines without
    Never talk about rosè Wines of Salento and Italian in general.

  3. Lee Abraham says:

    I encourage you to try Jolie Folle rose as no oak is needed and perfect with or without food

  4. Michele Rovario says:

    Perhaps you forgot Italian rosés. They are probably in a style between Traditional rosés and Modern rosés, but I think they Must be present in a review over world rosé styles.Certainly Valtenesi Chiaretto, Bardolino Chiaretto and Lagrein Kretzer in Northern Italy are to be mentioned, but also in Toscana, Apulia and Sicily we find rosé wines that are complex and with excellent notes to nose.
    So I hope the next time you better consider the Italian wines, that are fort present in English market.
    Michele R.

  5. Patrick Pierquet says:

    If you ever visit the Upper Midwest, or northern tier of states in the USA, be sure to sample our rose’s made from the new hybrids; they can be delightful. Chambourcin, Frontenac, Marquette among otheres.

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