by Dave Williams
With the recent popularity of pink wine, and explosion of new offerings coming on the market over the last 5-6 years, the question is – how do you select a good one? All too often wineries, negotiants or importers rush to meet marketplace demand without much regard to quality. Many wines have fallen victim to urgent capitalism, leaving a less than positive consumer experience. In fact, before we go any further I want to share a few traditional terms which more accurately identifies the origins of pink wine. In France “rosé” is the proper name. “Rosado” or “clarete” will come from Spain and in Italy “rosato” or “chiaretto” are used. In Abbruzzo, Italy it goes by “cerasuolo”.
Christopher Hoel, founder of Harper’s Club (an advisory firm that curates some of the world’s top wine collections) and sommelier, who established himself curating wine for clients, buys rosés based on color. He feels the lighter colored wines are higher in quality. It is generally regarded that the short maceration (crushed grape contact with juice) method is the best way to make quality pink wine. In this case the winemaker has a specific aroma and taste profile for the wine. Many are wonderfully refreshing, dry and redolent of flowers and summer fruits. Darker pink wines tend to be mass produced where maceration time is less closely controlled. Great rosé is about delicacy and finesse which lighter pink wines are more likely to deliver.
Another criteria he uses is country of origin, and “ABV” or alcohol level. France has a long history with rosé which always a good indicator. However, other countries and regions are remarkable as well. Dry wines will have an alcohol level of 12.5% or higher whereas wines with some level of residual sugar will be less than 12.5%, say 10-12%. (The old Rosé d’ Anjou comes to mind.) Good-to-great pink wines are almost always dry.
So the next time you are shopping for a pink wine and are overwhelmed by the selection, try this guide to see if you find something of your pleasure.