Photos and words by Lisa Johnston, Wine Musing
A wine for the little woman! Lolly pink and just as sweet! …. With outdated sentiments like these still floating around, pink wine is sadly underrated having been subject to these stereotypes.
In the past, the many of Australian rosés may have deserved these labels, produced as they were to introduce consumers, usually females, to drinking wine. Although, thinking of the Portuguese icon, Mateus, and its shapely bottle and you realise that it was not just the Australian wine companies using this approach.
In many wine stores and on many wine lists, the pink hued wines get little space and attention, which is totally undeserved. Today’s rosé wines are undeniably pink in colour but many offer more than cordial-like simple fruit and sugar. And, I have noticed that more of my male friends are opting for a glass of rosé (dry or sweet) instead of red in the warmer months. This is a sure sign that these stereotypes from the dark wine past are disappearing and I say that it is time to soundly kick them to the gutter where they belong.
More delicate than most red wines, with more body and intensity than most whites – rosé fills the gap between, providing refreshment, texture and enjoyment at both ends of the sweetness spectrum. They are elegant enough not to overwhelm and as such Rosés makes great food wines. A dry rosé is a perfect foil for Mediterranean dishes such as antipasto, salmon, light pastas and risottos to name but a delicious few. The off-dry and sweeter styles work very well with modern ethnic cuisine where chilli will make a drier style seem too dry, too hard and less fruity.
The many hues of rosé
When choosing your Australian rosé, depth of colour is no indication of sweetness. The deeper pink, almost crimson, rosé may have plenty of residual sugar sweetness. Conversely, it may be bone dry. The depth of colour is an indication that a particular rosé may have had extra skin contact giving it more tannins and deeper flavours.
The better rosés have been made with as much care as a red wine, with the colour coming from mere hours of juice contact with the red grape skins. Some have been made using the technique ‘saignee’, which literally means that the wine has been ‘bled’ from the tank in the very early stages of making a red wine. The rest of the must, or juice, in the tank continues through fermentation to produce a more concentrated and richer red wine (there are more skins per litre of must). The rosé portion, has a pleasing depth of fruit with a soft tannin structure.
A pale delicate rose petal pink may be lolly sweet but increasingly may be a dry savoury style of rosé. There has been a movement in the recent past on our shores to emulate the stylish rosés of the South of France. There is something about Provence, its lavender fields and Riviera charm that will never go out of style. With delicate pale pink and salmon hues and detailed savoury personalities that are dry and textural, these wines have historically remained truer to style even when other parts of the world indulged in the sweeter rosé life.
Such sweet delights
Of course, there are plenty of sweet delights to satisfy the sweet tooth. Particularly with the recent popularity of moscato. The best of these are made from the white muscat grapes and if they are pink may be often coloured with some red wine to ‘stain’ the wine. Others may be from other grape varieties that will not give that true rose petal and grape character. Rest assured though, moscato, whether white or pink, is still ‘hot’ this summer offering frothy bubbles of delight with refreshing acid and rating high on the pretty scale.
A good moscato should offer more than simple fruit. If you push the budget just a little, you will be rewarded with Spring in a glass with scents of floral bouquets, Turkish delight & musk. These moscatos are versatile and will be great partners for a light, fruity dessert or foods with aromatic thai herbs and chilli or… good as a kick off your heals and chill on the couch with the gang tipple. Simply because I was loathe to give up my glass one night, I discovered that I quite enjoyed my Pizzini Brachetto with Beef Fajitas (no sour cream please!)
Here are some wines to kick start your Summer.
Mrs Wigley Grenache Rosé 2013 ($18) – A partner for the Mrs Wigley Moscato. However whereas the Moscato is like a lovely soft lick of musky sweetness, this rose has been created to be dry. It is rich in ripe lush berry fruit in colour, aroma and flavour. On the crisp palate, there is a slight lavender herbal lift to give it interest. A good wine to drink on the beach watching the sun set with picnic at hand.
Woodstock Grenache 2013 Rosé ($19) – A lush deep floral pink that is unashamedly sweeter. Made from an intriguing mix where the red grapes grenache & cabernet sauvignon are bolstered with a clever drop of sauvignon blanc and semillon. The result is a ripe sweet cherry berry wine that has a core of lifted fruit purity. A wine that will work well at Summer bbq or at that BYO Thai place on the corner.
Soft, sweet and bubbly
Pizzini 2012 Brachetto ($18) – A bouquet that you could sink into on a hot day with Turkish delight, strawberry & floral musk to offer. It is pale pink, sweet & well balanced with refreshing acid on the palate where it sits lightly & lasts longingly. A wine with a low enough alcohol that you do not have to stop at one. Enjoy alone, try it with chilli lime prawn canapés or dessert. You choose!
If you enjoyed this, you really should check out The Wine Muse‘s weekly tips, they’re a great way to slip into the weekend: three top wines on a Friday