February 25, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Olé rosé

By |2018-03-21T18:37:40+01:00July 1st, 2009|Food & Wine Archive|
Red-grape skins left on for short periods of time produce a lighter-colored wine.

ore than reds or whites, Italian rosé wines speak of uncomplicated sun-dappled afternoons by the sea. These are wines that go well with summer and cater easily to our search for something both refreshing and cool.

While few rosés become household names (unlike their red Piedmont or Tuscan cousins), Italian pinks can be bold, full-bodied, and satisfying, making them perfect for Mediterranean cuisine, grilled fish, seafood or chicken salads, and picnic lunches in the park.

There are three methods for making rosé: skin contact, saignée and blending. During skin contact (the most common process used when making a rosé) a wine gets its color from contact with the skins of red grapes — and that color varies depending on the grape varietal and how long the two stay in contact with one another.

Red-grape skins left on for short periods of time produce a lighter-colored wine than those that stay longer on the lees (the time spent in sediment during fermentation). Saignée (pronounced ‘sonyay) occurs when the winemaker wants to impart more tannin and color to a red wine. By removing some of the pink juice from the must at an early stage, he divides his fermentation in two. This produces a fuller bodied red in the wine that stays on the lees, and a lighter bodied rosé siphoned from the pink juice.

With almost as many hues as there are colors on an artist’s palate, these wines can range in color from salmon to copper, and from dusky rose to the hue of blood oranges

The term “blush” is usually restricted to Australia and North America and refers to rosés that are a very pale pink, typically with residual sugars hovering in at around 2.5 percent. The name is starting to gain steam in Italy as winemakers start cashing in on the genetic link between Puglia’s Primitivos and California’s Zinfandels.

Outside of making Champagne, many wine snobs believe that blending red and white wine to make a rosé is something to be frowned upon. I tend to disagree. For light summer eating, what’s most important is the taste, not the method. Summer wines should be less about sipping and more about slurping.

Here is a handful that you may want to consider.

  • Rosa Rosae-Rosato Veronese IGT 2007

    The name “Rosa Rosae” comes from the Latin, “the rose of rose.” The label features Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Study of Flowers and Plants.” This rosé is a blend of red grapes native to Bardolino and includes the addition of Marcobona a white grape variety only planted by Guerrieri Rizzardi. An intense pink color and a very fragrant and fresh nose make for a very pleasant glass. The wine goes well with rice or pasta salads, white meats, crustaceans and Asian cuisine.

  • Cannonau rosé Filieri Rosato Cantina di Dorgali 2007

    This salmon colored Sardinian rosé is made with Cannonau grapes. Delicate and fruity, it has a medium body and good structure, perfect for sea bass sotto sale or grilled shrimp.

  • Ca’Lunghetta Pinot Grigio Rose 2008

    A blush to straw yellow rose, this crisp Veneto wine is intensely floral and gives the immediate impression of orange or acacia blossoms. Dry and full bodied, it’s a wine that will surprise you.

  • Negroamaro Rosato del Salento, Cántele, Paglia 2007

    A stunning example of the pink category, this is excellent with grilled salmon or a stuffed veal roast.

  • Rosato di Fontemorsi Toscana I.G.T. 2008

    A Merlot and Sangiovese blend, this fragrant rosé is an intense pink with violet hues and a fresh fruity nose that is perfect for Italian cold cuts.

About the Author:

Lynda Albertson's monthly wine column appeared between 2006 and 2010.