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An Expert's Guide to Rosé Champagne and Wine

There are several myths still to bust with this particular style of wine. Whether you prefer dark and dry rosé, pale and sweet or something in between, there’s a pink to suit every palate. Read on for your Clos19 guide to the facts you need to know and the pitfalls to avoid with rosé.

Rosé can be anything from super pale and sweet to almost red and bone dry. It’s reputation has been teinted by a wash of sickly sweet, new-world styles that put an entire generation off rosé, but those days are almost behind us. Provence has worked wonders for the reputation of pink wine with its very pale, food-friendly, dry rosés with serious weight and texture. As such, the reliability of this region’s rosé has had a halo effect on all pink wine. Lovers of champagne however, have never been in any doubt about quality when it comes to pink alternatives. In fact, pink champagne is often revered more than white.

How is rosé wine made?

Contrary to popular belief, still rosé wine is not usually made by blending red and white wine together. Instead, the red grape skins are left in contact with the juice for a very short time; just enough to impart a pink hue. If they were left longer, the wine would eventually become red. There are several ways of doing this: one way is the ‘saignée method’, where during the production of red wine, some juice is ‘bled’ off before the colour gets too dark. These are often seen as lower quality wines; more of a by-product of red winemaking than when a rosé is made with the sole purpose of becoming the best pink wine possible. Fine rosé is only ever made with fine pink wine in mind and its grapes and winemaking techniques are chosen accordingly.

Pink champagne: the exception to the rule

In Europe, Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) wines are not allowed to be made by blending red and white wines, with one, rather glamorous exception: champagne. Somewhat surprisingly given the above, pink champagne is usually made by adding around 15% of red wine to a white wine after fermentation (though a few are made using the saignée method). It was in fact Madame Clicquot of Veuve Clicquot who pioneered the addition of red wine to white in order to make pink champagne back in 1818. For bubbles, this is still considered to be the finest method. In fact, it’s often the rosé wines of a champagne house that command the higher prices for their relative scarcity and the incredibly high demand for them. Try the original: Veuve Clicquot Brut Rosé and compare it to a vintage rosé from Dom Pérignon, Ruinart or Krug, all of whom are admired for their complex, ethereal pinks. Rosé champagne over ice is now a popular way to experience the style. While Moët & Chandon’s Ice Impérial offers a modern twist on a classic too.

How to serve rosé

Fine rosé wines, whether still or sparkling, can take temperatures a touch warmer than their white counterparts. Rosé champagnes tend to show beautifully around 10 degrees celsius (50 degrees fahrenheit). The complexity that comes with the addition of red wine gets lost if the wine is too cold. Fine, still rosés should be served like full-bodied whites, around 10-12 degrees celsius (50-53 degrees fahrenheit). Most household fridges are far too cold to serve wine straight out of them, so let the bottle sit for a while on the side before opening. Drinking rosé too cold will mute its red fruit flavours, making it taste neutral or even bitter. Adding ice is a no-no too unless you want diluted aromas and flavours. If you’re desperate to keep your glass cool, perhaps freeze some grapes and add those to your glass instead of ice.

One great joy with rosé wine is its versatility with food, so remember that you can match entire meals with it. From charcuterie to chicken, even pigeon breast and cheese, serving a rosé wine can be a crowd-pleasing, food-loving choice. A demi-sec pink with puddings such as eton mess is a combination to die for!

Finally rosé is an ideal choice alone or with so many foods and during every season, not just summer Pink, blush, rose or salmon, let’s raise a glass for rosé.