Domenico Winery + Osteria

rosé wine tasting glass

Your Guide to Rosé Wine

Oh, rosé. The official wine of the summertime, that knows just how to cool you off, whether you’re relaxing on a patio, boat, or rooftop. This style of wine has garnered a ton of notoriety for its pretty pink color and incredible ability to quench our thirst. While you may adore rosé, you may not know exactly what it is. And, that’s totally ok. With our guide to rosé wine, rest assured you will be more of a rosé expert in no time.

glass of rosé in a vineyard

What is rosé wine?

Rosé is a dry light-bodied wine made from red wine grapes. Yes, rosé is in fact a dry wine (more often than not.) The name of this wine refers to its pretty pink hue – rosé in French means ‘pinkish.’ Other places have a name for rosé in their own language too. For example, in Italy, rosé is called rosato, and in Spanish, its rosado.

Where rosé comes from

With lots of talk about rosé and France, it may be safe to assume that rosé wine was birthed. in France. This is sort of true…

Technically, rosé originated when winemaking first started on planet Earth. That’s because wines thousands of years ago weren’t as dark and brooding as – let’s say – the Cab Sauv you have in your wine fridge. Red wines were left to macerate (aka, the skin contact or time that the grape skins stay in their juice) for a much shorter period of time back then. Even more so, the ancient Greeks were known to avidly dilute their wines with water. Of course, this isn’t practiced anymore for good reason.

Yet, it was actually the Phoenicians who brought vines to Massalia (present-day Marseille) in the 6th century B.C.E., laying the foundation for the future of rosé.  The wines in the area became the famous ‘pink wines of Massalia,’ so enticing that the wines lured the Romans to the area centuries later. This is how the Provence and the South of France in general initially became known for rosé.

How is rosé made?

We have red wines and white wines, and then we have rosé. Now, it’s safe to wonder – well, are there pink grapes then? Not quite.

Traditionally speaking, rosé comes from red grapes, just as red wine does. The major difference is in the maceration time. Maceration is what gives red wines their deep color by letting the grape skins rest in the juice during fermentation. However, for rosé, the skins remain for a very short amount of time, resulting in a lighter wine in both color and body.

There is also another way to make rosé. The ‘saignée’ method may be a less popular rosé wine method, but it still yields thought-provoking and refreshing rosé. Saignée means ‘bleeding’ in French. The method gets its name from winemakers ‘bleeding’ off wine from a fermenting red wine tank. The extracted wine is much lighter and typically used for rosé.

rosé wine tasting glass

Remember – there are all kinds of rosé wines

A big misnomer is that rosé is one type of wine. It’s not at all! Rosé can come in various shades of pink, with a myriad of flavors and aromas. These characteristics come down to one thing – the grapes used in the wine.

Generally speaking, rosé can be made from any red wine grapes. This is why you will find rosé wines in every wine region. Sure, rosé is very marketable and popular. Yet, it is also a way for winemakers to allow certain grapes to express themselves in a different way.

The classic Provençal rosé that the world adores, with its pale pink color, is usually made with grape varieties such as Cinsault, Grenache, or Syrah that all grow in higher altitudes, lending them wonderful acidity. A short maceration leaves these wines to produce a light-colored rosé.

In other wine regions, rosé wines can actually be much darker in color and a little fuller in body. Sometimes, this color can cause people to think that the rosé is sweeter. This is not true at all.

Take Sangiovese. The leading grape of Tuscany makes delicious rosatos that have a vivacious pink color. And, this rosato is fermented until dry just as if it were a red wine. Also, not only does this rosé wine from Italy look gorgeous in a glass – it stands out with its character.  The natural tannins and earthy aromas of Sangiovese often create a very intriguing rosato that sends your tastebuds straight to the Tuscan countryside.

Besides grapes, rosé can be enjoyed in unique styles. One very popular one is bubbles!  There are plenty of brilliant rosé champagnes, cavas, and other sparkling wines made in a rosé style. We cannot resist the HAQ Brut Rosé – a delicious Italian sparkling wine made from Aglianico grapes.

How to serve rosé

Rosé wines are best served like white wines – chilled to about 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s best to hit the sweet spot of 55 degrees Fahrenheit so that your rosé’s aromas have a little more warmth to express themselves while your rosé is still cool enough to make every sip refreshing.

Rosé wine pairings

What food tastes best with rosé? So many things!

You can have quite the fun pairing rosé wines with food. Rosé typically pairs effortlessly with vegetables, soft cheeses, and light fish dishes. Salads with fresh goat cheese, grilled summer vegetables, steamed mussels – the list go on as to how many wonderful things rosé pairs with. one of our favorites is pizza. It’s hard to beat a perfect Margherita pizza with a chilled glass of rosé.

Love rosé? Don’t miss out on Domenico’s 2020 California Dry Rosé that’s tasting better than ever.