Rosé wine has long had a bum reputation. It only started picking up over the past two years, where the love for all things rose quartz and millennial pink gripped the world thanks to social media. But even this newfound adoration for rosé isn’t enough to erase the stigma of it being a “pretty” drink because, well, most people drink it now for that very reason
We are in an age where food and drinks are judged beyond taste. Every dish and beverage must be presented meticulously for Instagram. While dining’s visual component has always been prevalent, Instagram culture has made it a prerequisite, and our demands for elegance in what we consume now extends to something as simple as a glass of wine. A sparkling flute of champagne adorned with no filter gets a hard pass, but show a hand gripping a glass of rosé wine against a pristine sea and you’ll draw boatloads of double taps. The label on the bottle rarely matters to the average person.
Rosé’s appealing, soft pink hue is also its bane. Most men won’t drink it for the same reason they won’t touch a Cosmopolitan. The colour is unfortunately associated with fluff. The regular bro will give it a hard pass in favour of a pint even before giving the wine a shot.
What is rosé?
Rosé is arguably not as nuanced as red or white wines. “If we put the complexity and varieties of wine on a scale, white wines start at one, and go all the way to 10. Red wines are more varied, going to 20. But rosé has maybe…one to four? People think its just a simple wine, and that might be why they don’t really order rosé,” said award-winning sommelier and owner of La Terre, Daisuke Kawai.
There are three key methods to make rosé. The first, and the most popular, is the skin contact method, where red wine grapes are crushed with their skins, and left to rest. The skin imparts the blushy hue to the juice. Once the colour has reached a suitable intensity, the skins are removed, and the juice is left to ferment.
The second is saignée, a method highly popular in New World regions. Within the first few hours of making red wine, some of the juice is bled out and placed into a fresh vat to become rosé.
Blending is the final, but most frowned upon method to make rosé. You basically combine a little red wine with a white wine, and it becomes rosé. The red wine is used as a dye, as every batch of rosé needs only five percent or less to enhance its colour.
No better with age
Aside from its simplistic creation, rosé has less diversity in terms of aroma and taste. “There is not much depth or acidity to rosé. While it’s refreshing to drink, there are only so many types to try,” said Kawai. “It’s either dry, semi-sweet, sweet, or semi-dry rosé, and that’s about it.”
Rosé is also best enjoyed young. Ageing plays a significant role in a wine’s potential, whether red or white. Though every wine has a capping point for maturation, this process gives it more tannins, acidity, and sugars, as well as increases its alcohol content. Rosé doesn’t have any of the above taste markers because it has little potential to age. Ideally, the wine should be enjoyed as soon as possible, or up to two years after bottling.
The rise of rosé
The wine and whisky menu at La Terre is a tome. There are 1,000 bottles on the list, but scour through the options and only a handful of rosés come up. It has nothing to do with Kawai’s preference for the drink, as he holds rosé champagnes in high regard. It’s just that no one orders it.
“If you ask me how many people come into my bar every year and order rosé, I can say it’s less than one percent,” he said, laughing.
But Kawai suggests that rosés’ lack of love from seasoned wine drinkers has little to do with firm dislike, and is more a matter of priority. “I don’t hear people saying they hate rosé, it’s just that their priority for choosing to order it is lower than red or white wines.”
With the wine’s recent ascent, though, many are recognising that it is a valid category, and good rosé can also be found in places that have little to do with the divide between Old and New World. At the recent International Wine Challenge (think of this as the Oscars for vino), a rosé from a German supermarket chain bagged second prize for its category. Made in France and distributed by Aldi supermarkets, the Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé is only S$11 a bottle. That price is all the more stunning because Provence is a winemaking region that dominates rosé.
Because Aldi’s rosé is not the easiest to source out here, Kawai recommends Plesiss-Duval’s Cabarnet d’Anjou as an entry point, or Christophe Mignon’s Brut Rosé, if you’re keen on the bubblies. “The rosés by big houses are always a safe bet too,” he added.
Affordability, accessibility and prominence are all in rosé’s favour right now. It’s with hopes that 2017 will be the year people start taking the wine seriously, instead of negating it as something to order by the beach, because it’s summer, and pink is a pretty colour.