What is rosé wine?

Rose wine glass on a table showing what is rose wine

Updated July 19th 2023

What is rosé wine and how is it made? Rosé wine can be recognised by its pink color, which can range from very pale orange pink to deep bright pink. In this guide we explain how rosé wine is made, the different rosé styles and the best food pairing for this pink wine.

Rosé wine, sometimes called rosato, is slowly taking up a larger share of the wine shelf in supermarkets around the world. The popularity of rosé wines has increased drastically over the last years and the demand tends to peak during the warmer summer months. Rosé wine is produced in many countries in the world, which has resulted in many different styles.

How rosé wine is made 

It is common to distinguish between five types of wine: red, white, rosé, sparkling and dessert. Rosé wine usually refers to still wine with a pink color, but it can also be sparkling.

In order to get its beautiful pink color, rosé wine making differs from how red wine is made. There are many misconceptions regarding the methods of making rosé wine. First of all, rosé is made with red grapes. It gets it pink color from the red grape skins, where all the red pigment is. The red grapes are crushed and the grape skins remain in contact with the juice for a short time. After removing the skins, the juice will continue to ferment. This is called the skin contact method and is the most common practise to make rosé wines. Another way to make rosé is the Saignée method, which means “bleeding” in French. When making rosé wines with the saignée method, the pink grape juice is removed at an early stage and fermented separately.

It is very uncommon that rosé wine is made by blending red and white wine, but it is legal to do so in order to make Rosé Champagne. 

Different styles of rosé wine

There are many different styles of rosé wines, ranging from fruity and slightly sweet, to dry and almost savoury rosés. Different types of wine grapes can be used for making rosé. Only red grapes are used because the pigment in the skin is what gives the characteristic pink color to the wine. Rosé wines made with Pinot Noir gives a delicate fruity wine with strawberry flavours, while a rosé from Cabernet Sauvignon will have more savoury flavours such as pepper. In Côtes du Rhône rosé is usually made of Syrah and/or Grenache, which gives the wine a savoury and rich profile. The famous light and fruity rosé of Provence in southern France is made of Mourvèdre, Cinsault or Grenache. Rosé made from the Zinfandel grape is often called White Zinfandel. This style is usually more sweet than most rosé styles.

How does rosé wine taste?

The taste of rosé wine differs depending on the grape used and where it is grown. In general, rosé wines offer berry flavours and a delicate fruitiness. Floral aromas and citrus are also common. These aromas in combination with a low alcohol level makes it a perfect summer wine. Just don’t forget to serve it cold! 7-10°C (45-48°F) is usually the perfect temperature.

Food paring with rosé wine

Rosé wines are great together with foods. The wine's fresh and fruity flavours pair well with a wide range of foods. Rosé wines are slightly richer than most white wines, which makes them perfect for buffets. A classic pairing with rosé is salmon or charcuterie, but the pink wine works perfectly as an aperitif by itself. If it is a slightly sweet rosé wine, it will be great together with spicy foods such as Indian foods. If you are having a barbecue a rosé is a perfect paring with bbq chicken as well as grilled vegetables.

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