It's hard to take anything pink too seriously, as imaginary elephants and tutu-wearing hippos will testify. Pink wines have only recently started to shake off their 'bottle-makes-a-nice-table-lamp' image; but rest assured, these days pink doesn't necessarily mean plonk.
Yes, there are still plenty of cloying, confected rosés for the unerringly sweet of tooth, but the choice of 'grown-up' rosés has never been broader. Dry, crisp, uniquely refreshing styles, are becoming the picnic/barbecue wine of choice for a growing band of al fresco adventurers. In fact, rosé consumption has rocketed (up by about 65%) since the sweltering summer of 2003. And a bottle of rosé has been included, for the first time, in this year’s typical British shopping basket, as chosen by the boffins who calculate the rate of inflation.
The key to enjoying rosés is to drink them young, fresh and chilled, so insist on the latest vintage as even the finest rosé wines start to lose their bloom after only six months in the bottle. As they're not intended for ageing, screwtops instead of corks are fine; and, besides, we all forget the corkscrew from time to time.
Delicious rosé wines come from as far afield as Chile and New Zealand but Southern France and Spain are the traditional epicentres of rosé production. Grenache (Garnacha in Spanish) forms the backbone of ripe, robust rosés from Provence and the southern Rhone and for rosados from Rioja, Navarra, Somontano and Priorato. Not surprisingly, chilled rosé wines match superbly with herby rotisserie chicken and salad nicoise, cured Spanish hams, fresh prawns and paella. They also work well with mildly spiced oriental dishes such as Chinese sweet and sour, but for pink sensory overload drink rosé with taramasalata.
Here are some grown-up rosés; they’re no blushing wallflowers.
Vina Decana Rosado 2007, Utiel-Requena, Spain
Dark-skinned Bobal grapes transformed into a bright strawberry-pink wine. Cherries and raspberries with hints of citrus. Juicy with lively acidity. Excellent value and a screwcap to boot (12% alcohol by volume).
Skouras Rosé 2008, Vin de Pays de Peloponnese, Greece
A pale and interesting blend of Moscophilero and Agiorghitiko grapes, packing a ripe cherry punch with lively acidity (12 ½ %).
Vinha da Urze 2007, Douro Valley, Portugal
Vivid strawberry red. Made with beefy Touriga Nacional, one of the grape varieties used to make Port, this is deliciously ripe on the palate, packed with strawberries and nectarines. Exuberant juiciness backed by crisp acidity (13%).
Casillero del Diablo Shiraz Rose 2008, Valle Central, Chile
This widely available crowd pleaser is a deep strawberry red with summer aromas of strawberries and cream. Quite full-bodied with mouth-watering fruit and a crisp, dry finish. Screwcap (13%).
Chateau de Sours 2007, Bordeaux
A dry, elegant rose made from Merlot grapes, with something of a cult following. Enticing strawberry aromas with sprightly acidity on the palate; and it comes in a screwcap bottle despite its 'grown-up' stature (13%).
Gran Feudo Rosado Julian Chivite 2008, Navarra, Spain
Pale strawberry red but full-bodied with lashings of ripe, pleasantly tart cherries. Crisp and well balanced with a long dry finish (13%).
Please check supermarkets for up-to-date prices and availability.