Rosé wine

Rosé wine

Wine expert Martin Isark provides a beginner's guide to appreciating rose wine, and some of the best bottles to look out for at the moment.

In this feature
Easy drinker
Not for keeping
What to buy


It comes in any shade from white pink to ruby red. The rosé colour of still wine can be made in a similar way to pink champagne or sparkling wine, that being by adding a small amount of red wine or by leaving the pressed grape juice in contact with the black grape skins for short period of time. The pinkish colour can also be obtained by charcoal filtering some of the colour out of red wines.

Easy drinker

Rosé wines have little contact with the grapes' pips and skins and it is rare for them to be aged in oak - therefore they are almost tannin free. So without any tongue curling or rasping bitter tannic tastes, rosés generally present a pleasing palate and a soft swallow.

Not for keeping

Rosé wines don't have the tannic structure and the multi-layered complexity of a fine Bordeaux or Burgundy and are not made to be cellared. They are therefore at their best drunk young. If you have a choice of two vintages of the same wine, choose the younger.


Rosé wines can be drunk at room temperature with pleasure, but for most palates they work best served chilled.

Jargon demystified

Confused when buying pink? Here are some of the terms you'll find on the labels:

Rosé - used in France and many other wine producing countries. Covers all shades from white pink to ruby red.

Rose - the same as rosé, but there is a trend to drop accents on labelling.

Vin Gris - a French name sometimes used for very pale rosés made from the Pinot Noir, Gamay or Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

Saignée - a French name that is sometimes used to describe rosé wine that has a dark pink colour.

Oeil-de-Perdrix (partridge’s eye) - sometimes used in France and Switzerland to describe pale pink wines made from the black Pinot Noir grape.

Rosado - rosé wine made in Portugal or Spain.

Clarete - a Spanish name that is sometimes used for their darker coloured rosé wines.

Rosato - rosé wine made in Italy.

Chiaretto - an Italian name that is sometimes used for their darker coloured rosé wines.

Weinherbst - rosé wine produced in Germany.

Schillerwein - rosé wines that are produced in Germany’s Württemberg region.

Blush - sometimes used for particularly pale rosés, especially for wines from California.

What to buy

Here are Martin's recommendations for rosés at a range of prices. The handy tasting notes will help you stop making those expensive mistakes:

2006 Visionario, Rosato Delle Venezie, Italy, Alc. 13%, £8.99.
An elegant mix of apples and strawberries tantalise the nose, palate and swallow – one bottle won’t be enough. Score 10/10. Available at UKTV wine club.

2006, Gran Familia, Rosado, Rioja, N. Spain, Alc. 12%, £4.99.
Very reasonably priced and perfect lunchtime drinking. Pink ruby rosé that presents a mix of cherry flavours and spice integrated with ripe juicy acidity. Score 9/10. Available at

2006 Quinta Das Amoras, Rosado, Estremadura, Portugal. Delivers plenty of red wine flavour, but without any tannic aggression. Score 9/10. Available at UKTV wine club.

2006 Château Ducla, Rosé, Bordeaux, France, Alc. 12.5%, £5.99
It's almost impossible to get drinkable red from Bordeaux at this price, but the same does not apply for this rosé: onion-skin coloured with soft apple and red fruits that harmonise perfectly with ripe juicy acidity. Score 9/10. Available at

2006 Torres DeCasta Rosado, Catalunya, N. Spain, Alc. 13%, £5.99. Very drinkable. This light ruby wine won't disappoint, it hits all the spots for aroma, taste and swallow. Score 9/10. Available at

2006 Covela Rosé, Minho, Portugal, Alc. 13.5%, £10.99
Expensive, but worth it! Most rosés have simple one dimensional fruit flavours, but this has the complexity and the softness to keep both the white and red wine drinker happy. Score 9/10. Available at

2006 Isla Negra Reserva, Merlot, Rosé, (Screwcap), Central Valley, Chile, Alc. 13%, £6.99
This pale ruby rosé delivers aroma and flavour in spades. Be prepared for floral blackcurrants backed on the nose and ripe juicy fruits tastes on the palate and finish. Score 7/10. Available at" target="_blank" style="text-decoration:underline;">

2005, Ménage à Trois, Rosé, California, Alc. 12.5%, £7.50
An easy drinker. Pale ruby colour that delivers fruity top notes of strawberries and raspberries, both of these flavours harmonise well with the clean ripe acidity on the palate and the finish. Score 7/10 Available from

2005 Côtes du Rhône Rosé, E Guigal, Rhône, France, Alc. 13%, £7.99
One of the region's top producers has produced a pinky that hits all right spots. Score 7/10. Available at

2006 Château Sainte Marguerite, Rosé, (Organic), Côtes de Provence, S. France, Alc. 13%, £9.99. Onion-skin coloured, dry with mouth-filling mineral and apple flavours that are balanced in the mouth and on the swallow. Score 7/10. Available at

2006 Château de Caraguilhes, Rosé, Corbieres, S. Franc, Alc. 13.5%, £7.99 . Light ruby in colour with delicate red fruit aromas on the nose and palate. The 13.5% alcohol may be too much for the lunchtime drinker. Score 6/10. Available at

2007 Rocky Rombola, First Crush Shiraz, Rosé, (Screwcap), Australia, Alc. 13%, £5.99. Reddy pink wine that delivers plenty of cherry aroma and flavour, but the spiky acidity may just be a little too heavy for some palates. Score 5/10. Available at UKTV wine club.


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