Rosé Is Always Sweet — and Other Popular Rosé Myths, Debunked

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July 18, 2019

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It seems that everyone from moms to millennials are drinking rosé these days. Yet rose wine, while wildly popular, remains one of the most wildly misunderstood genres of wine on the market. Sure, everybody loves to sip a glass of summer water when the weather gets nice (your mom was probably doing it before it was cool), but does anyone actually know how it’s made? It’s time to set the record straight on rosé. We’re breaking down the five biggest myths surrounding it, and introducing five prodigious bottles that prove these myths wrong.

Myth: Rosé Is Just Red Wine and White Wine Mixed Together

Let’s back it up. To understand rosé wine's pink color, we need to talk about where wine gets color from. Two words: Skin. Contact. The amount of time the juice of pressed grapes spends in contact with the grape skins decides the end product’s color. Skin contact is extremely important in dictating the finished product of a wine. Skin contact can also make a wine more tannic, which helps to explain why red wines are often more tannic than whites. In order to make rosé, the desired grape is pressed and left in contact with the skins for a very short period of time. That means rosé can be made from red grapes or white grapes, or a combination of both. Although rosés are often blends, they are so much more complicated than just mixing a cup of red and a cup of white wine together.

The bottle we’re loving? Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé ($30). This typically bold, dark grape shows its’ delicate, light pink side with this rosé aged 12 to 14 hours with the skins.

Myth: Rosé Is Always Sweet

Not usually! In fact, most rosés are actually on the dryer side. When tasting wine, it’s important to remember that fruity doesn’t always mean sweet, and just because a wine may have notes of strawberry and guava, it doesn’t have to be sugary.

Take La Crema 2018 Pinot Noir Rosé ($25) for example. This elegant bottle boasts aromas of pink grapefruit and mandarin and hits you with flavors of watermelon and strawberry. Don’t be fooled though — the undertones of minerality round out the wine, proving the very important fact that light, fruity and fun rosés aren’t always sweet. La Crema winemaker Craig McAllister says, “Despite fruit forward, delicately sweet aromas and flavors, this wine is bone dry. What I love the most about our rosé is its balance; it is light on its feet with fresh-crisp fruit, juicy acidity and just enough minerality to bring some structure.”

Myth: Rosé Is Always Cheap

Sure, rosé doesn’t have the same price tag as a Napa chardonnay or a Brunello, and somewhere along the way it got a bad rap for being the jug wine that no one wanted to buy. But that doesn’t mean it’s ALL cheap! Rosés are made all over the world with the same care, passion and excitement as other wines. They can be bold and brash, light and fun or full and food-friendly. They can be complicated or simple, strong or subdued. Making a rosé is a powerful way to showcase the skills of a winemaker and the bounty of their harvest.

If you’re not convinced, try Wine Access 2018 Azur rosé. This 2018 Azur Rosé ($36) is a kind of eye-opening rosé: a pale, salmon-colored California beauty that rivals the best of Provence.

Wine Access Head of Wine, Vanessa Conlin, says, “There is a pervading myth in wine that rosé is always cheap. Whether the implication is that they are low quality or inexpensive, neither of these are true. It’s not that cheap rosé doesn’t exist. However, an exquisitely crafted rosé can show the character and complexity of the great white wines of the world.”

Myth: Rosé Is Just For Summer

Oh, but think of how much time you’re missing! Rosé is one of the most versatile wines in the world and is great for in so many seasons. Bold, juicy rosé is perfect for a brisk fall lunch and crisp, clean rosé can be a delightful winter aperitivo when paired with cured meats and stinky cheeses.

Just try Zonin’s 2018 Rocca di Montemassi Renaissance Rosé ($17). This soft pink hued rose is a blend of Sangiovese and Syrah with aromas of strawberry and rose petals, and subtle hints of white pepper. It’s incredible food-friendliness makes it perfect for all seasons. Pair it with seafood, cured meats, grilled vegetables, fresh salads and lightly spicy dishes. The next time you whip up a batch of comforting chicken curry, pair it with a bottle of 2018 Rocca di Montemassi Renaissance Rosé — you’ll turn all your friends into cool weather rosé fans in no time.

Myth: Better Drink it Young — Rosé Can’t Age

False! Although most rosés are best when enjoyed right away, there are some that have the capability to get better with age. Certain grapes lend themselves better to aging than others, which proves that aging ability of a bottle of rosé depends on what grape the wine is made from.

Take Domaines Ott Château Romassan Bandol Rosé 2018 ($52), for example. This light peach colored bottle is made primarily from Mourvedre, a solid, structured grape that ensures a great capacity for aging. With notes of grapefruit and stonefruit this wine is delicate yet well structured, and can sit on your wine rack for years to come.

Take it from Jean-Francois Ott, co-director and winemaker of Domaines Ott who says, "To produce our crus wines at Domaines Ott, we select our estate-grown grapes harvested each year with the intention to produce the best quality wines for rosé lovers. Today, one can enjoy the 2018 vintage, as well as rediscover the 2016 vintage."

There you have it! Everything you’ve always heard about rosé might not, in fact, be true. Take time to taste wines on your own before making up your mind about them. You never know, the things you thought you knew to be true might actually be just a big myth.

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