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  • Marine Nugeron

What's with light Rosé wines?

Do you select your rosé by the colour?

It’s time to stop judging rosé by its light colour

It's summer, it feels like rosé season, but then: do you know how to choose it? Do you think the clearest rosés are the best? Concretely, do you really know what rosé is? Is it a mixture of red and white or just slightly tinted red? We will explain it all! The (good) wine merchants regret it bitterly, but they are often asked for very light rosé. As if the colour were the sole criterion of choice for their customers... In reality, this clarity does not attest to the quality of a wine, nor its taste!

What is rosé?

Rosé is simply a slightly tinted red wine. You have to understand that it is the contact time with the skins of the grapes that give the wine its colour. It is enough to bite a grape to see that the pulp is always white, even when it is red. Without contact time, all the juices (musts) come out white. In the case of rosé, it is, therefore, simply red grape varieties (with red skin) that have not been in contact with the skins for very long.

Alright, now you understand, it is not a mixture of red and white. This method is also prohibited. The only exception that proves the rule: champagne! It is the only AOC where the mix of white and red is authorised to make rosé.

Rosé from maceration, bleeding or pressing: what are the differences?

Maceration rosé

The grapes are placed in vats to macerate for up to 24 hours before the start of pressing and fermentation. This process will promote the development of aromas and bring substance and complexity. The wine will also be more colourful because the skins of the berries, which contain the colouring pigments, will have been in contact longer with the pulp.

Saignée rosé

It's about the same as that of maceration, only part of the juice is released after maceration, the rest being vinified in red. These gastronomic rosés are better equipped for keeping.

Pressing rosé

Here, the grapes are directly pressed and fermented without maceration time. Clearer, these aperitif rosés are also simpler in taste. Since they are made faster, they are less expensive to produce. Put this way, one could almost think that the clearer a rosé is, the worse it is. But that is not true either. Let's just remember that the best rosés are not the clearest!

So why this myth of light rosé?

First, because we tend to mentally associate clarity with lightness in alcohol or sugar, therefore with drinkability, but the colour of a wine can be deceptive. Moreover, as we have seen, “light” rosé is often easier to produce (direct pressing), and, therefore, less expensive. In fact, it is more widespread, especially in Provence, the wine region that dominates the rosé market (38% of national rosé production and more than 4% of world consumption). Therefore, this style of rosé, and this famous light colour, that the consumer sees and knows the most, which has become a reference in everyone's mind. But it's a shame because this standardisation of tastes generates a vicious circle: winegrowers are pushed to produce rosés with less character since they are both more profitable and highly rated. The process is complete.

Fun Fact: the consumption of rosé has tripled in 25 years. Today, one in three bottles of wine sold is a bottle of rosé wine (CIVP data from IRI Symphony).

Which rosés to adopt?

You will find plenty of delicious “small” rosés between 9 and 15 euros at your wine merchant. Then, among the great references on this type of wine, we can cite the essential Clos Cibonne (with its famous grape variety, Tibouren), a classified growth in AOC Côtes-de-Provence, or the mythical Domaine Tempier, Pibarnon, TerreBrune , on the very famous Bandol (add link to our Provence on the marketplace) appellation (although initially rather known for its reds, this AOC remains a safe bet in terms of rosé). Conversely, we would avoid Château Minuty or Miraval in your place because they are mainly marketing products that you pay too much for. Naturally, you will also find very good bottles of rosés worldwide.

What about food/wine pairings? The advantage of rosé is that it goes well with many things! For example, you can enjoy it with grilled meats for your summer barbecues, or even with a salad, cheeses, etc. (Of course, its taste will depend on its region of production, its grape variety(ies), etc.)


Let's be clear. The colour does not predict the quality of a rosé (nor its sugar content). For a rosé to be good, it has to be good, period! It does not matter its colour, its region, its appellation, or even its vintage. Your rosé will be good if it's done well, your red will be good if it's done well, and your bread will be good if it's done well.

From there, a multitude of styles of rosés exist, and, in the batch, there is necessarily one or more that will correspond to your tastes or desires!

In short: don't be fooled by the robe of the rosé which can be in total contrast with the nose and the mouth.

Santé! Marine Nugeron

Our sommelier's selection based on this article:

Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose 2021

The presence of Mourvèdre gives it a lot of character, balance and complexity on the guard. This rosé attracts with its power on the nose with a citrus scent (pink grapefruit).

Domaine Ott Clos Mireille 2021

A wine from ancient lands characterized by a mixture of shale and clay. The vineyard stretches widely along the seafront giving an inimitable character to Clos Mireille, a Cru Classé Côtes de Provence.

La Fontaine de Jouvente Rosé de Repas 2019

A bright coral hue with aromas of vine peach, cherry and a floral hint of carnation and black pepper. Soft and delicate on the palate with a warm finish.

Château Pique-Sègue Bergerac Rosé 2019

The Bergerac rosé of Château Pique-Segue presents all of the characteristics of a quality wine: rich aroma with a distinct touch of red berries, raspberry, wild strawberry and black current, fresh and elegant to taste.

Beauvence, L'Originelle 2020

A delicate nose of honeysuckle and pomelo, a fresh and elegant rosé with a lovely lingering flavor on the finish. Delighfull !

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