A rosé by any other name

Wine has a language all of its own, and the deeper you venture into varietals and winemaking, the more expansive your vocabulary becomes. Just like learning a second language, proficiency grows as you’re exposed to immersive conversations and regional accents.

When it comes to the language of rosé, some people would prefer to render it mute, others simply let it get lost in translation, interpreting it only with their eyes in order to judge it by its colour.

This is a mistake because the language of wine consists of sight, smell, taste and finish.

Generally perceived as uncomplicated and easy to drink, rosé typically lends itself to a focus on colour (paleness to be exact), but to limit it there is to misunderstand the richness of its language.

For years, rosé has been beset by misconception and deemed a ‘less sophisticated’ wine, but that reputation is changing, and for good reason.

Before we dive into the detail, let’s start by debunking the most common myths about rosé.

MYTH #1 - Rosé is only for summer

Honestly, the same could be said for any light, crisp wine as tannins are less noticeable when chilled. A glass of chilled red, white or rosé are all perfect for summer – it comes down to individual preference.

In the cooler months, a rosé with longer time spent ‘on skins’ pairs well with meat, fish and cheese, while a sweeter rosé can be enjoyed with a cheese platter or dessert in any season.

MYTH #2 - Pale means good

Wrong! Colour reflects grape variety and origin, - it is not an indicator of quality.

Earlier harvesting, adding white grapes, less contact time between juice and skin or gentle pressing are all techniques used to achieve a lighter colour and a delicate balance between fruitiness and acidity.

On the flip side, riper grapes and longer skin contact create darker pinks, which can be just as good but more full-bodied.

MYTH #3 - Rosé is basic and lacks vintage variation

This is an unhelpful generalisation. As with any wine, rosé styles range from simple to complex. Complexity can be produced from low yields, blending different harvests, using old vines, longer ageing or using oak.

MYTH #4 - It must be consumed young

Most rosé retains its freshness for two to three years, and many improve over time as the flavours open up, allowing secondary notes to emerge. Though it’s not easy to find a 20+ year-old rosé, some have been known to produce stunning flavours.

MYTH #5 - Rosé lacks vintage variation

This myth is already losing ground as we’ve all seen the impact of frost, drought, fire and hail over the last few years. Different styles of rosé are also created by cooler and hotter vintages.

MYTH #6 - Rosé is just for women

Perhaps the most exasperating of all the myths, based on no discernible logic. Is it because rosé is pink? Are we really still gendering wine in 2023?


Now that we have the myths out of the way, let’s take a look at the three main methods of making rosé wine.

The first is direct press. Red grapes, harvested two weeks earlier than the standard red wine harvest, are used to make a pale pink rosé. After being chilled to prevent colour from leaching, the grapes are gently pressed with the juice then being fermented in a mix of stainless steel and old oak at temperatures between 10 – 18 Celsius.

Here at Weathercraft, we pick the fruit earlier in the season when it’s not as high in alcohol and press it gently in whole bunches as you would say, a chardonnay.

The second method, saignée (French for ‘to bleed’), uses a proportion of red-tinged juice from a tank that was intended to make red wine. When grapes are crushed and put into a big open ferment, the first juice to come from this is set aside and used to make rosé which is often darker and bolder, depending on the grape.

The saignée method is very much embraced here in Australia and still respects the fruit (usually using just one grape variety), but it is significantly higher in alcohol and tannin.

The third method is blending, which is simply combining some red wine, with some white. To me, this is not rosé at all. Australia lacks regulation on what constitutes rosé but the situation is very different in places like France where blending and marketing a ‘fragmented’ rosé is not permitted.


Sales of rosé have grown by more than 20 per cent in the last two decades, with exports from Provence soaring above 500 per cent in recent years.

The popularity of premium rosé is changing the category even further, bringing complex styles to the market, with price points starting to edge above $35 a bottle. The best rosé wines are rich with fruit intensity including strawberry, cherry, peach and pomegranate while still brimming with fresh acidity.

Rather than drinking your rosé straight from the fridge, its optimal temperature is around 12 degrees Celsius, so allow it to sit for a few minutes before you enjoy it – which brings us to another perennial debate about chilled wines…


For many people, adding ice cubes to wine is the ultimate faux pas – the equivalent of trampling a beautiful language with bad grammar.

While it’s true that ice cubes will melt and dilute your wine, the bottom line (always!) is that you are entitled to drink your wine anyway you choose, so long as it makes you happy.

And the tides of ‘good’ taste may be changing. In recent years, it has become more common in the Mediterranean to be offered ice when served white or rosé wine on restaurant terraces. Several producers have released wines intended to be served with ice, including Moët Ice Impérial Rosé NV which has been on the market now for six years and Freixenet’s Ice Rosé.

If you can’t bring yourself to add ice to your wine, I recommend keeping a few grapes in your freezer and adding the frozen grapes to your glass when you want a quick chill. That way you get all the chill without compromising the taste.

If adding anything frozen to your glass is simply not your style, there are plenty of gadgets available that will help you chill wine in a hurry, but don’t forget you can always wrap your wine bottle in a damp kitchen towel and pop it in the freezer for a speedy chill. (Just be sure not to forget that it’s in there!)

The question of chill isn’t exclusive to whites or rosé, it applies to reds in warm weather too. Twenty minutes in the fridge before serving, et voilà!


As we say goodbye to winter in the southern hemisphere, my advice is to stay open minded about the cheerful language of rosé.

Its contemporary, crisp beauty may surprise you, and your wine vocabulary will be all the richer for it.

Rosé in my Glass

Some European rosé I have enjoyed over the colder months.

Château Léoube, Singulier, Côtes de Provence, France 2021[Cabernet Sauvignon - Cinsault - Grenache]

Gérard Bertrand, Clos du Temple, Cabrières, Languedoc, France 2021[Cinsault - Syrah - Grenache]

Château d'Esclans, Garrus, Côtes de Provence, France 2016[Grenache - Rolle]

Dominio del Aguila, Pícaro del Aguila Clarete, Ribera del Duero, Spain 2017[Tempranillo - Albillo - tiny percentage of Bobal - Garnacha - Tempranillo Gris - Pirules - Jaen - Malvasia and others]

Domaines Ott, Château Romassan Rosé, Bandol, France 2020[Mourvèdre - Cinsault - Grenache - Syrah]

Article written by Raquel Jones, Winemaker for Weathercraft Wine