The Wine Style of the Season: Rose

Yellow daffodils signal spring time. Buds are on the trees. It’s light when I leave work. Rose is the wine style for this season.

That’s not to say rose wines are not particularly suited for year-round enjoyment – because they are. They just seem especially suited for spring holidays and occasions.

What is rose?

To make rose, a winemaker starts with red-skinned grapes but treats them more like white ones.
In red winemaking, juice is left in contact with the skins for an extended period of time, to pull out colors, tannins and flavors from the skins, like using hot water to extract from tea leaves. In rose winemaking, that time is limited, so color and some flavor are extracted from the skins, but minimal tannins. (In white winemaking, skin contact is mostly avoided.)

From then onward, rose winemaking looks more like white winemaking. The fermentation is maintained at a cool temperature and occurs slowly to preserve freshness and delicacy.

Red Winemaking Rose Winemaking White Winemaking
Skin Contact with Juice Extended period of time Limited period of time Rarely used
Fermentation Temperature Warm Cool Cool
Length of Fermentation Short Extended Extended

Rose wines range in color from pale salmon to bright pink. They usually offer flavors of red fruits like cherries and strawberries; orange fruits like apricots; and citrus fruits, too. They can be floral or herbal. Nearly every wine region makes rose wine, so there is plenty of variety. In France and the US, they are called “rose;” in Italy, “rosato;” and in Spain, “rosado.”

Serve rose wine chilled, and enjoy it in its youth. At this time of year, wineries release their newest roses. And spring offers many occasions at which to enjoy them.

Serve rose for these 5 spring occasions

  1. Easter: Rose shows off its versatility at the table. Holidays like Easter offer a variety of flavors, which can be a challenge for pairing. Rose (and bubbly) go well with that sort of variety.
  2. Cinco de Mayo: A cool glass of rose tames the heat of spicy red peppers like chipotle.
  3. Mother’s Day brunch: Again, brunch offers an opportunity to show off this wine style’s versatility in pairing. This year, treat Mom to flowers you know she’ll enjoy. (Yes, this article needed a pun.)
  4. Memorial Day barbecues: Chill a bottle and enjoy while grilling. Rose is perfect with grilled chicken, and a deep pink wine will pair with meatier fare
  5. Picnics: Rose pairs with charcuterie and all sorts of cheeses. For picnicking convenience, pack a can of rose.

How will you enjoy the wine style of the season?

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