Rosé: Summer's Undisputed Finest
Summer, which has admittedly taken the day off today, brings with it stacks of bottles in varying shades of pink, in all manner of crazily shaped bottles. It can be had for $9.99 from the supermarket or $60 by the bottle perched in an ice bucket within arm's reach on the deck at your favourite restaurant. It’s everywhere, and it’s magnificent.
In my own humble opinion, no wine is quite so unifying as rosé. In a world where I don’t drink Pinot Gris (because I’m not a monster) and you don’t really like Chardonnay, rosé is a wine we can both agree on. If we’re sharing, in this case, I’m bringing you a bottle of rosé, and I know you’re going to be stoked.
Rosé is an odd one in the world of wine. It’s not really seen as a serious wine, although it’s massive business, especially along the southern coast of France, where cities like Cannes, Nice and Monaco practically run on the stuff. The kind of rose they make here is fresh and crisp, a perfect foil to the sun and the region’s abundant seafood. It’s almost purifying, taking that first sip of rose after a day spent covered in sand and sunscreen. It doesn’t strictly pair well with that smear of local cheese on baguette that you’re eating, but honestly, you couldn’t care less. If rosé is life here, then I hope I never die.
In New Zealand, rosé is a wine that nobody ever thinks of first. It’s the bottle you come out of the shop with when you had fully intended to grab a chardonnay, the bottle that gets cracked first at the barbeque, with everyone else’s bottles of sauv blanc forgotten momentarily in the fridge. It’s an afterthought, maybe, but it's a proper crowd pleaser as well.
A lot of our local rosé is made from Pinot Noir, giving us a more berries-and-cream-style wine than the grenache-based wines that come from the south of France. It’s a touch richer, making it food-friendly and a great match with things like takeaway curry or barbequed prawns, but it still goes down very nicely before dinner is even a twinkle in the chef’s eye. Instead of being cleansing, it’s invigorating – a drink to get you in the mood for the night that is to come.
There’s plenty of rose being made and drank in other parts of the world, of course. In 2014, a rose shortage in the Hamptons made unsurprisingly sarcastic headlines, and in 2016, Action Bronson accidentally made a nerdy natural rose from Sicily one of the most sought-after wines on the planet. One of the most famous roses in the world is Mateus, an eye-wateringly sweet wine that at one point accounted for nearly a half of all table wines exported from Portugal. Producers in California, Spain, Australia, Italy and in other parts of France are making roses that range from cuvees with just a kiss of peachy colour to wines that are almost opaque, they’re so dark.
The one thing they have in common is that I will drink them all.