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May 17, 2018

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Chilled rosé is perfect color for summer season

Isacs is the founder and CEO of EnjoyGourmet, a leading gourmet digital ( and print media company in China. He has authored over a dozen wine and food books including the awarded ISACS Guides and other gourmet books and is a wine consultant to governments, wine regions and organizations. He also hosts wine events for leading organizations and companies throughout China. Contact John via

Today’s iDEAL feature story deals with colors, specifically natural food colorings in Chinese cooking. In thematic tune, I thought it apropos to explore the role color plays in modern wines and introduce some of the prettiest wine in the world. In fact, of all the judgable characteristics of wine that include sight, nose and palate, color is the easiest aspect for winemakers to control. In international wine competitions a wine must have a major flaw not to get full marks for color, while on the other hand wines very seldom get full marks for aromas and palate.

Different varieties and wines from differing climates have a range of colors but in general all wines should be clear, have a level of brilliance and color indicative of their age, variety and region.

Young wines may offer a variety of brilliant colors from bright straw yellow, with greenish hints, to deep brooding black-red. As wines age, they tend to gradually become browner. This is true for both whites and reds, so if you’re drinking a 20- or 30-year-old wine and there are brownish tones this is only natural.

On the other hand, if you open a wine from a recent vintage and it’s brownish, then most likely you have a major problem.

From the lightest of off-white wines to the darkest blackish wines, the world of wines offers a wonderful assortment of beautiful colors. Some of the most visually appealing are pink.

Rosé wines

The precursor high temperatures of a Shanghai summer are already upon us so it’s time to think and drink pink. In other words, it is the perfect time to drink rosé wines. Traditionally, rosé wines have been hard sells in Shanghai and the rest of China.

The latest statistics customs authorities and international trade offices indicate the market for rosé wines in China is slowly developing but is still out-of-tune with the rest of the wine consuming world.

In France during the summer, rosé wines outsell white wines by a large margin, and cafes and restaurants in gourmet centers around the world pour liberal amounts of rosé wine when the temperature ticks up. I’ll certainly do my part in increasing the consumption of rosé wines in China this summer. In the world of rosé wines, there exist different shades of pink, some lighter and more delicate and others more bold and assertive. Both are perfect for summertime drinking.

Rosé vs. rosado

There are several different methods to make rosé wines. Like reds, rosé wines get their color from the skins of dark- colored grapes.

The amount of time the skin and juice of the grapes stay in contact in the winemaking process dictates whether a wine is rosé or red. Like other wines, rosés can be made from a single variety or a blend of varieties.

The choice of varieties will also influence the color, aromas and taste sensations of the wine.

In the world of dry rosé wines there are basically two major styles, lighter-colored rosés as you’ll find in France, particularly in Provence, and deeper- colored rosados that predominantly originate from Spain. In fact, France and Spain are the two largest producers of rosé wine in the world.

The color spectrum of Provence rosés ranges from pale peach to light pink while the colors of rosados vary from vivid hot pink and light ruby red.

Tavel rosés from the Southern Rhone are somewhere in between, with lighter colors but bold flavors.

Which style is best? That’s totally up to you. Spending many summers of my youth in southern France, I grew up with the fine rose wines of Cotes de Provence.

First granted AC status in 1977, Cotes de Provence is the largest appellation in the Provence wine region. Eighty percent of the appellation’s production is rosé wines that are among the most delicate and prized in the world.

Typically, Provence and neighboring Languedoc make rosé from a blend of two or more varieties of Grenache, Syrah, Carignan, Mourvedre and Cinsaut, and are bracingly dry with resplendent aromas and flavors of yellow and red fruit with plenty of herbaceous and floral qualities.

Some fine producers who have rosé wines available in Shanghai include Miraval, Gabriel Meffre and Domaines Ott.

Other southern French rose producers of note are Chateau La Tour, Mas de Madame and Skalli.

Spanish rosados are usually made from Grenacha or Tempranillo grapes though Monestrell, Cabernet Sauvignon and Mourvedre grapes are also used. Common aromas and flavors include strawberry, red current and fresh cherries often with a very light smoky tannic finish. Recommended rosados from Spain include the Marques de Riscal Rosado and Marques de la Cruz Grenacha Rosado.

Of course, rosé wines are not limited to France and Spain. There are some wonderful New World rosés. Two of my favorites are the Te Mania Pinot Noir Rosé from Nelson Bay, New Zealand and the Chocolan Rosé from Chile. The later wine is a blend of Syrah and Petit Verdot and might just be the best value rosé available Shanghai.

Rosé rules

Rosé wines generally do not improve with bottle aging and lose their vibrancy and delicate aromas and flavors quite quickly so it’s best to only purchase recent vintages.

A second rule to observe is to serve rosé wines well-chilled. The ideal serving temperature for rosés is between 6 to 8 degrees Celsius. Well-chilled rosés retain their exhilarating fruitiness and special mouth watering zing, while warm rosés taste flat.

Where to buy in Shanghai

Varieties: The main varieties used to make rose wines in Cotes de Provence are Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault and Tibouren.

Key term: Skin contact refers to the time the pulp of a grape spends in contact with the skins and this is a key step in determining the color of a wine.


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