Getting to Know Rosé Wine

Words: Karen Glanfield

rose wineWine Concepts LB 728 x 90Rosé wine is one of the fastest growing categories of wine internationally and in South Africa where sales trebled between 2007 and 2014. This is exciting for consumers and winemakers alike. 2017 saw Rosé wine take the international wine publishing sector by storm with no less than 5 books being published on Rosé this year.

Rosé wine isn’t from a specific grape or region, it’s a genre of wine, like red or white. The biggest producers by volume are France, Spain and Italy but many excellent examples are made in South Africa. Most Rosé wines are made from blends of multiple grapes.

Rosé wine is the perfect year-round wine to be enjoyed at spring picnics, summer braais and autumn dinners and pairs well with many types of food. Calling wine ‘food-friendly’ can be an annoying cliché but in the case of Rosé, it’s not wrong. These wines are versatile because they fall in between the extremes of red and white — less intense than a big, tannic, mouth-busting red, but often with more depth than a super-light white.

That happy-medium flavour profile (and the fact that different varietals span a broad spectrum from bright and zippy to darker and meatier) means that you can almost always find a Rosé wine that plays along with whatever you’re eating — fish, veggies, chicken, grilled steak, potato chips, choc-chip cookies, you name it. Just make sure that the wine is well chilled before drinking.

It’s the perfect braai wine, the perfect beach wine, and the perfect picnic wine, but it’s also the perfect sitting-around-watching-TV wine.

How is Rosé wine made?

Maceration Method

The maceration method is by far the most popular method of making quality Rosé and this process is essentially exactly what the name describes. Since colour is held in the skin of the grape, the grapes are crushed and the juice is left in contact with the skins, as a red wine would be made. However, the skins are left to soak only for a limited amount of time, depending on the desired style of Rosé. This can be anywhere from 6-48 hours (as opposed to weeks, or months, for a red wine).

The longer the maceration, the darker and more richly flavoured the Rosé. The juice is then racked, or drawn off of the skins, and the rose-tinted wine begins fermentation. This method can make many styles of Rosé depending on grape variety and length of maceration.

Saignee/Bled Method

The Saignée (pronounced ‘San-yay’) method is when some of the juice is bled off during the first few hours of making a red wine and put into a new tank to make Rosé. The purpose of bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely Rosé but also concentrates the intensity of the red wine. Saignée wines are pretty rare, due to the production method, and often will make up only about 10% or less of a winery’s production.

Blending Method

The blending method is when a little red wine is added to a tank of white wine to make Rosé. It doesn’t take much red wine to dye a white wine pink, so usually, these wines will only have about 5% of added red wine. This method is no longer such a common practice with still Rosé wines but is used in the production of pink sparkling wines and MCC.

3 Facts you should know about Rosé

  • There’s no shame in drinking pink wine!
  • The longer the grape skins are left in the wine, the darker the colour of the finished Rosé will be. The intensity of colour can also be influenced by the variety used to make the Rosé.
  • The newest vintage is the freshest wine. It’s not necessary to store these wines for years. Most of the first wines released in any vintage are made in the Rosé style.

A Selection of Great South African Rosé Wines

Fable Wine Belle Flower Rosé

Located up against the rugged slopes of the Witzenberg Mountain range, Fable focuses on producing pure expressions of Rhône varieties. Every morning the Mountain casts a shadow over the farm, which has a cooling effect. In summer this allows the grapes to ripen slowly, retaining great natural acidity and in winter the snowy peak helps keep the vines dormant for longer.

WINEMAKER Tremayne Smith
WO Tulbagh
TASTING NOTES The colour is bright, pale pink with salmon hues like the Rosé you will find in Provence. The nose is beautifully layered and complex and citrus blossom. Strawberries carry through on the palate accompanied by honeydew melon and baking spices like nutmeg and cardamom with subtle hints of dill and stone minerality. The finish is long with soft creamy layered flavours and mineral and fresh lingering acidity.
WE LOVE IT WITH Beetroot Cured Salmon

Black Oystercatcher Rosé

The Black Oystercatcher farm is situated between the small towns of Elim, Bredasdorp and Agulhas, in the Overberg region in South Africa. In 1998, Dirk and his family decided to live their dream by planting vineyards on the property. Dirk’s knowledge of the land with its sand plains, wetlands, extensive limestone and calcareous dunes enabled him to select the perfect location for the Black Oystercatcher’s vineyards.

WO Overberg
TASTING NOTES A cool climate Rosé, with distinctive strawberry and pomegranate aromas, created by the unique way these two grapes are fused. A lingering, dry crisp and mineral taste on the palate.
WE LOVE IT WITH Nicoise Salad, with Poached Salmon and Sweet Mustard Dressing

Cavalli Pink Pony Grenache Rosé

The goal at Cavalli Wine Estate and  Vineyard is to produce world-class wines with a very local character and a strong identity. Wines that are uniquely identifiable as having been produced in the Helderberg, known locally as the Golden Triangle of South African wine. The stunning destination estate is home to Cavalli stud and Equus Dine restaurant.

WINEMAKER Craig Barnard
WO Somerset West
TASTING NOTES The dry, full-bodied style highlights a juicy red currant, raspberry and honeysuckle mid-palate. The fresh, long finish is charged with strawberry and delicate spice. This Provence-driven style emulates the traditional, purist heritage of Grenache.
WE LOVE IT WITH Raspberry and Goats Cheese Salad

Painted Wolf The Den Rosé

The Den wines by Painted Wolf are social wines to be enjoyed with friends and family. These wines are named for the den, the heart of all African Wild Dog communities. Flavour-packed, soft and juicy comfort wines for everyday drinking. Jenny Metelerkamp produced a fine Painted Wolf ink drawing for the label.

WO Paarl
TASTING NOTES A bright, fruity wine with strawberry, cherry and cranberry flavours, a gentle, underlying minerality and a fresh lingering finish.
WE LOVE IT WITH Garlic and Chilli Prawns


Rosé wine
Rosé wine

Leopard’s Leap The Lookout Pinotage Rosé

Leopard’s Leap was conceptualised at the turn of the century by winemaker and businessman Hein Koegelenberg. Following its formidable success as a wine producer during the first decade, a decision was made in 2011 to broaden the horizons and, at the same time, create a home where visitors can get close to the values of the Leopard’s Leap brand and experience the Leopard’s Leap identity and principal passions – wine, food, conservation and literature. The elegant burst of citrus from the Chardonnay is beautifully complemented by the red fruit and raspberry aromas of the Pinot Noir.

WINEMAKER Eugene van Zyl
WO Franschhoek
TASTING NOTES Lively hints of raspberry and cherry blossom followed by sweet strawberry and candy floss aromas. The vibrant colour of this wine comes to life on the palate with the prominent taste of sweet red fruit and sherbet, leaving a lingering freshness.
WE LOVE IT WITH Lemon and Poppy Seed Whoopie Pies with Raspberry Cream


rose wine

Allée Bleue Starlette Shiraz Rose 2017

Allée Bleue offers visitors a unique experience – world-class wines, fruit and herbs, stunning event and conference venues, a bistro and picnic venue, a fresh produce shop, warm hospitality, historic charm and contemporary art, surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Franschhoek Valley.

WINEMAKER Van Zyl du Toit
WO Franschhoek
TASTING NOTES Lovely cherry blossom colour. Fruit-driven style with abundant sweet strawberry and rose petal aromas. Also a hint of spiciness that is derived from the Shiraz grapes. The palate is reminiscent of candyfloss with hints of raspberry. A well balanced and cheerful Rosé.
WE LOVE IT WITH Harissa Lamb Chops with Grilled Peach Salad

Rosé MCC

Boschendal Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rosé

Boschendal, nestled in one of the most picturesque valleys in the Cape Winelands, one of South Africa’s original wine farms eagerly awaits your arrival. With a wine making tradition spanning over 300 years, Boschendal Wine Estate offers a veritable treat for wine lovers everywhere. This gracious national treasure is a familiar favourite to many and a glorious discovery for countless others.

WINEMAKER Liezel Gerber
WO Coastal Region
TASTING NOTES Exceptionally pleasing on the eye as well as the palate, Le Grande Pavillion Brut Rosé sparkles with versatility, making it ideal for enjoying on its own or in a bubbly and al fresco environment along with seafood, summer salads and chicken dishes.
WE LOVE IT WITH White Chocolate and Rose Semifreddo

Laborie MCC Brut Rosé

A visit to Laborie affords you the opportunity to reminisce about the Cape as it once was. Laborie has been producing fine wines since 1698 and more than 300 years on, is one of the oldest wine farms in South Africa.

WINEMAKER Kobus van der Merwe
WO Paarl
TASTING NOTES This dark salmon pink MCC shows lifted floral, strawberry and violets, with undertones of Turkish delight and red apple on the nose. The palate is elegant, lively and vibrant with a fine mousse and lingering, crisp finish – all perfectly integrated for pure enjoyment.
WE LOVE IT WITH Sesame Crusted Salmon Salad


Rosé wine
Rosé wine

Increase your wine knowledge and get to know  Red and White Blends | Shiraz | Chardonnay | Chenin Blanc | Cabernet Sauvignon | Merlot Pinotage

Wine Concepts LB 728 x 90

One comment

  1. I love rosé wines — but only the dry ones (or at least off-dry). I do not want to drink sweetish rosé’s. So the ever-present descriptions about sweet flavours (strawberry, berries, etc) always put me off buying certain rosé’s. My biggest complaint is that the description so seldom says “dry rosé.” Unless I see that, I do not buy the bottle.

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