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Everything you need to know about French rosé wine

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Stephen Cronk, proprietor of Mirabeau wines shares his expertise on rosé wines. Stephen, originally from the UK, moved to Provence in 2009 when he set up a wine business in the south of France to set up a new wine company to compete with the best producers in the region. He put together a world-class winemaking team and discovered some high quality, high altitude vineyards for his brand new Provencal rosé which is already award winning and exported around the world.  His journey from novice to expert wine maker means there isn’t much he doesn’t know about rosé wines and he delights in introducing people to “the wonderful world of wine” as he puts it. We asked Stephen for a rosé wine masterclass…

Is all rosé wine sweet?

The truth is that this is not so, in fact most rosés are dry and Provence rosés have to be dry in order to qualify for the Appellation (AOC) status. There are medium and sweet rosés but these generally come from the US and are known as ‘Blush’ wines (although they are becoming less popular these days as people trade up to more complex, dry rosés).

Is it true that rosé wines are not really compatible with food?

The opposite is actually the fact. Rosé wines, in particular Provence rosés, are some of the most versatile wines around. They have enough character not to be overwhelmed by most foods and the acidity to cut through the flavours and in particular salt. Rosé pairs well with a large variety of food; salads, seafood, BBQs, chicken and even a lot of Asian cuisine.

Are rosé wines a blend of white and red wines?

Extremely rarely. Most rosés are made from red grapes and with limited contact with the grapes skins, the colour turns pink. The more time in contact with the skins, the darker the rosé. Some wines are white and red blended, but this practice is rare and forbidden in Provence.

Does colour equals quality when it comes to rosé?

The truth is that it’s not as simple as that. There are dark and pale rosés that are good and bad. However, if the rosé is very orange in colour this is usually a sign that the wine is beginning to oxidise.

Screw cap equals cheap wine?

french rose wineThe fact is that the type of closure for a wine is rarely an indicator of quality (unless the wine is closed using the rubber corks that are impossible to get back in the bottle). The French don’t like screw caps – but that’s because they don’t have much exposure to them. The majority of New Zealand and Australian wines are closed with screw cap (up to the very highest quality levels) and screw cap is the best technical closure for rosé wine (and in fact most white and many reds too).

Does Rosé age well or not?

It is generally true that rosé doesn’t age well – it is made to be consumed within the first year or two of production. A few rosés are made to be aged but these are very rare.

Is rosé a wine that should only be enjoyed during the summer?

No! As rosé is such a versatile wine (as both aperitif and a food wine) it should be enjoyed all year round. In France rosé wine is far more an all-year round wine and in fact the French drink more of it than white wine. But there is no denying that rosé somehow tastes especially lovely in the sun!

Do you think Rosé wines  merit greater appreciation?

Rosé wine has undergone a massive change over the past decade in terms of wine making techniques and perception, and some of the best rosés can command very high prices  – anything up to £80-100 a bottle in some cases. If you were to taste some of the best rosés blind, you would be blown away with their complexity.

 Do real men drink rosé?

Come on – of course they do! Provence rosé is made from some of the best red grapes in the world (Grenache, Syrah etc) and just because we don’t extract all the tannin and colour doesn’t make the drinker any less of a man. Besides, I drink rosé (but then again I also eat quiche and cry in movies – so maybe I’m a bad example). One day Mirabeau will sponsor the England rugby team – that might change perceptions!

french rose wineMany thanks to Stephen Cronk of Mirabeau Wines for these insights into rosé wine…

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