Pink drinks have changed. The colour has left behind its immediate association with syrupy sweet cocktails and candy floss-flavoured mass-produced wine. In a world where nonsense marketed at “girls” no longer has the monopoly on pink, it has finally started to be taken seriously.
With pink gins crowding shelves and bars, Aperol and Campari showing drink enthusiasts pink’s bitter edge, unicorn everything and a new wave of rosy spritzers taking over the summer, one would imagine that the original pink drink, rosé wines, would finally be getting the love it deserves.
However, there’s a certain snobbery around it still. It is indeed The very fact that pink has gotten so big that it’s now a “lifestyle” is something that adds up to a perceived lack of seriousness among wine connoisseurs. Those adventurous enough to rise above their own prejudice will be rewarded with modern rosé wines made with passion and high standards.
Pink wine in Ireland
While sales of rosé have grown considerably in key markets such as the US and UK, they’re still a relatively hard sell in Ireland.
According to figures from the 2017 Wine Market Report by the Irish Wine Association (the branch of the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland related to wine importers and distributors in Ireland), the consumption of Rosé in the country has been a very thin and steadily shrinking slice of the pie: from 2007 to 2016, it went from five per cent to a meagre three per cent of the national wine consumption.
However, by 2017 it went back up to five per cent. The number is still small, but at the same time, it represented a 66.66 per cent increase and the first jump up in a decade.
If global trends are anything to go by, the future for rosé wines in Ireland might be bright: according to the 2017 report on the global status of rosé wines by FranceAgriMer and the Conseil interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP), the global consumption of rosé wines grew by 32 per cent between 2002 and 2016 and has experienced a period of stabilisation in recent years.
Rosé, in bloom again
Wine author and consultant Elizabeth Gabay MW has researched the evolution of rose for many years and she shares many of her findings and insights on her book Rosé Understanding the Pink Wine Revoltion. She points out references to pink coloured wines tracing back as far as the 17th century.
Improvements in the production of red wines eventually meant rosé became regarded as less complex and simpler, but the style had a resurgence in the 50s after the second World War. “Enterprising producers Lancers and Mateus in Portugal, and Five Roses from Southern Italy made large volumes of rosé for these troops, and after the war exported their product to America.”
The decades that followed saw the enthusiasm for rosé drop vertiginously.
But just as the Judgement of Paris gave a pivotal change to public opinion about Californian (and in a bigger picture, New World) wines in 1976, Elizabeth notes 1986 as a year that “might have been a turning point in the reputation of modern rosé” as Food and Wine from France showcased a rosé-only range of French wines at a tasting that made the trade and press rethink pink.
Since 1999, the Center for Rosé Research (Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé) in Provence, has worked to improve the quality of rosé wines with the help of science and technology. While it focuses on the Provence region, the centre’s findings have benefited producers all over the world.
139 Shades of Rosé
The Centre for Rosé Research developed a chart known as Le Nuancier des Vins Rosés (The Rose Wine Colour Chart) in which they’ve identified 139 different tonalities. The chart creates a palette starting from seven colours (lychee, peach, salmon, apricot, coral, raspberry and cherry) which are available in 3 tones (light, medium and intense).
This is one of the numerous resources and publications they’ve produced to contribute in the making, analysis and evaluation of rosé wines.
However, when looking at a wine shelf sometimes it can feel as if there was one dominating shade that has taken over: the very pale, delicate style of Provence rosé that has become so fashionable. There are many incredible rosé in this style and certainly, the region has become a world leader in quality, innovation and marketing. But with so many shades of rosé out there, allow yourself to explore and experiment.
Let this rosé season be one of variety and fun!
€16.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
This vibrant rosé from the Spanish region of Navarra was a collaboration between Lynne Coyle MW, Wine Director at O’Briens Wines, and Alicia Eyaralar from Bodega Tandem. The name Rós is Gaelic for rose and the wine is made from sustainably farmed Garnacha grapes vinified with natural wild yeast.
It’s intense and medium bodied, with a vibrant coral hue and aromas of ripe strawberries. While it has a very fruity nose, it’s dry and structured on the palate.
Gérard Bertrand Côtes des Rose Rosé
€18.95 – Available at O’Briens Wine
Celebrated Languedoc producer Gérard Bertrand has unveiled a new rosé that combines Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault into a delicate and crisp wine that will work as an ideal aperitif or companion to shellfish.
Aromas of raspberries and pink grapefruit with a subtle floral hint converge on the nose and a pleasant acidity refreshes the palate after each sip.
It comes in a very original bottle with its base shaped as a rose.
Exquisite Collection Côtes de Provence Rosé
€9.49 – Available at Aldi
This rosé made headlines when it won a silver medal at The International Wine Challenge in 2017.
It offers amazing value and a fine taste of the classic Provence style.
It’s a bright pale pink blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah, with aromas of strawberries and raspberries.
De Martino Gallardía del Itata Rosé
€19.95 – Available at Green Man Wines
The Itata Valley is one of Chile’s southernmost wine regions and it’s home to a series of very exciting wineries run by creative winemakers. In there, Cinsault grapes thrive on volcanic soils and this rosé from forward-thinking winery De Martino is a very pleasing example.
Its aromas offer a blend of floral notes and juicy redcurrants. On the palate, one can enjoy high acidity and a tense structure.
Portillo Rosé Malbec
If you’re looking for a darker shade of pink, this bold blush from Argentina is here for you.
Coming from the Uco Valley, high altitude helps it retain freshness while preserving plenty of flavours and aromas.
Expect fresh cherries and strawberries, a moderate acidity and a medium body.
Gabriela’s passion for writing is only matched by her love for food and wine. Journalist, confectioner and sommelier, she fell in love with Ireland years ago and moved from Venezuela to Dublin in 2014.
Since then, she has written about and worked in the local food scene, and she’s determined to discover and share the different traditions, flavours and places that have led Irish food and drink to fascinate her.