Rose undoubtedly has a tremendous popular appeal, despite the views of the anti-Rose brigade, who insist that it is neither one thing nor the other. Certainly it isn’t a long-living wine, and it is best drunk young. But it undoubtedly suggests gaiety, so how do we make the very most of it?
HOW TO SERVE
First of all, any Rose, even Tavel should be chilled. And as one of its attractions is visual, it should be served in a glass that does justice to its pretty colour. A tulip-shaped glass — the kind used for Champagne — is one idea, or, if you happen to have any glasses with hollow stems; these are especially suitable if the Rose is sparkling. In any case, serve it in glasses with stems, because it’s certainly best drunk to the last drop while it’s still cool. The sweeter Roses can become quite flabby if they are too warm. So, Rose is a drink for anytime and anywhere, but I recommend a warm, sunny morning in a garden — among roses. And if you do find yourself landed with a less-than-interesting Rose it can always be used to make the basis of a colourful wine cup — or just add a strawberry, or a leaf or two of young mint, to give it a more refreshing aroma. And if it’s a really hot day, put in a clink or two of ice..
They are lighter in alcoholic strength than other wines, but they’re by no means ‘teetotal’.
HOW ROSE WINE IS MADE
Roses (the best anyway) are produced in the same way as other wines, the difference being that they are made from black grapes, the skins of which are removed from the ‘must’ when the wine is beginning to take colour and before it becomes really red. There are pink wines made by mixing red and white wines, and even some made by the addition of cochineal to white wine — a disreputable practice, though the dye is harmless enough. However, no one buying a Rose from a reliable shop or restaurant need worry about this possibility.
Today there is a wide choice of Roses, both still and sparkling. I shall mention my own personal favourite first — Tavel, from the Rhone, generally the dryest, most robust, and, at its best, certainly the most distinguished, of them all. The fullness is the more surprising since the wine comes from soil so barren — sand, lime and loose flints — that it is hard to imagine vines growing on it at all. And Tavel is certainly not a wine to be thought of as having no kick.
Generally more popular are the sweeter Anjou Roses, from one of the most beautiful stretches of the chateau- guarded Middle Loire. They are usually listed as medium dry — like the Cabernet, for example. The Loire also produces sparkling Roses. In fact, Roses are made almost everywhere that black grapes are grown: there’s even a new, slightly sweet, sparkling Pink Rose made from Muscat grapes, called Lily the Pink — sounds very merry!
Burgundy and Bordeaux both produce Roses — including a Beaujolais Rose — which tend to be somewhat dryer than those of Anjou. And some good Roses come from Provence — sprightly ones, hinting at Mediterranean sunshine. Among them is the light-medium Pradel Rose from Villeneuve-Coubet and (also French bottled) Bandol Domaine du Val d’Arene; the 1969 is full and well-balanced, one of the few (apart from Tavel) which can be drunk through a meal. Finally, still in France, there is a Rose from the Montpellier-Beziers district, called Pelure d’Oignon, which means ‘onion skin’!
Portugal today exports very considerable quantities of Rose wines, most of them still or slightly sparkling rather than fully sparkling. Of the slightly sparkling, the most widely promoted one has been Mateus Rose, contained in attractive, Franconian-style bottles. The wine is, frankly, not exceptional, but amiable enough, darkish for a Rose, medium, and, in fact, middle-of-the-road, with a tingle rather than a sparkle and handy enough if you are in a quandary about what to serve at a party which is not likely to be too demanding. Similar to it is Faisca. Another agreeable prickly pink Rose is Quinta do Roi, which comes from Bussaco and may well have been enjoyed by Wellington’s soldiers during the Peninsular War. Some brand-name Roses are available either still or sparkling — ’Justina’, for example.
Spain supplies considerable quantities of Rose wine, too, most of the exports bearing brand names or the Spanish word ‘Rosado’. A Rosado from Rioja can be pleasantly dry and crisp, and also less insipid than some of the cheaper brands.
Hungary — fiorgony Rose is medium-dry and reasonably priced.
South Africa’s most notable contribution to the river of Rose flowing round the world today is the Twee Jongezeller (’Two Bachelors’), from the beautiful Tulbagh Valley in Cape Province.
In Australia the demand for Rose wines is not very considerable, possibly because the alcoholic strength is less than in other wines. They are usually marketed under the names of the grower and the grape, the Grenache generally producing the best wine. Grenache Rose, for example, is light, young and medium as to sweetness. There is also Seppelt’s Spritzig, and the word is descriptive of the slight sparkle in Portuguese Roses, to which this one has some resemblance.
The United States. From the Paul Masson vineyards in California comes a Grenache Rose which has the onionskin colour of a good Tavel, though it is sweeter.