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

Laborie Rosé 2018

Kobus Van Der Merwe, winemaker at Laborie, is truly passionate about winemaking – he believes you are working with a living organism, which must be treated with the utmost care and respect in order to achieve the perfect result.  Being part of the KWV winemaking team, he feels every day is a learning experience as he is surrounded by a hardworking team with a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for the art of winemaking.  Kobus regards this experience as helping him reach one of his major goals which is to make a positive contribution to the wine industry.

WINEMAKER Kobus Van Der Merwe
WO Western Cape
TASTING NOTES On the nose, notes of strawberries, Turkish delight and sweet melon. On the palate, hints of grapefruit, minerality with just a small touch of lime come together to leave a fresh and persistent finish.
WE LOVE IT WITH Easy Wholewheat Prosciutto and Cheese Pizza

Jean Roi Cap Provincial Rosé

Anthonij Rupert Wyne was founded on the farm, L’Ormarins in Franschhoek. The focus is on terroir specific wines and therefore the ranges are made from a number of sites. Each site offers optimum varietal specific growing conditions, allowing Anthonij Rupert Wyne to adhere to the requirements of their different brands.

WINEMAKER Mark van Buuren
WO Coastal Region
TASTING NOTES Expect instant appeal from the pale copper pink blush colour, which continues with its alluring aromas of peach blossom and honeydew melon on the nose. On the palate, you can experience a vivaciousness with the immediate impact of bright juicy melon, peach and nectarine flavour making itself felt. The acidity is refreshing and in harmony with the fruit.
WE LOVE IT WITH Angelfish with Grilled Asparagus and Roasted Garlic Dressing
RSP R290

Babylonstoren Mourvèdre Rosé 2016

Babylonstoren is situated on historic Cape Dutch farmland, dating back to 1692 and boasts one of the best-preserved farmyards in the Cape – highly regarded for its breathtaking gardens that are laid out over 3,5 hectares. The farmstead boasts a modern tasting room surrounded by vineyards and overlooking its namesake mountain – Babylon.

WINEMAKER Klass Stoffberg
WO Simonsberg Mountain/ Franschhoek Valley
TASTING NOTES On the nose, this wine will give a refreshing scent of raspberries and rose petals. On the palate, taste of strawberry yoghurt and a candy-floss finish, with a fresh acidity for a lingering delicious mouth-feel.
WE LOVE IT WITH Salmon and Scallop Ceviche
RSP R110



Du Toitskloof Pinotage Rosé

Opening up in only 1962, this relatively young vineyard used innovative thinking to help make this brand a household name today. With their trade initiative and programs, they have become beloved within their community. Specially selected Pinotage grapes were used to produce this flavour packed Rosé. Beautiful colour from carefully monitored period on the skins. This truly South African Rosé is also a wonderful companion to salads, pizzas and light pasta-style dishes.

WINEMAKERS Shawn Thomson, Tiaan Loubser, Mathilda Viljoen, Derrick Cupido
WO Rawsonville
TASTING NOTES On the palate, expect raspberry, strawberry and red-berry flavours.
WE LOVE IT WITH Yellowtail Darnes with Herby Mascarpone Butter



Fat Bastard Pinot Noir Rosé

Whether it’s a celebration, a kuier or a “COME ON OVER!”, there’s a FAT bastard (or two) waiting to be opened. “Much like a glass of FAT bastard wine, life should be filled to the brim and enjoyed in large, delicious gulps”. This is the voice of Mr. b. He’s gold, he’s grand and he lives life at the big end of large! He’s the grand-daddy of FAT bastard wines, loving them with great gusto.

WINEMAKER Jacques Roux
WO Robertson Valley
TASTING NOTES Notes of strawberry and watermelon, with floral overtones. On the palate, it has a creamy, fresh summer berries taste.
WE LOVE IT WITH Sticky BBQ Spare Ribs with Coffee and Pepper Rub
RSP Between R75-R85


Sticky BBQ_coffee ribs

Flagstone Poetry Cinsault Rosé 2018

Flagstone’s Poetry Cinsault Rosé is crafted to achieve a memorable, joyful and authentic status. Like poetry it celebrates the joy and highlights the natural sadness of our human condition, it eulogises the cycle of nature and blushes a romantic cherry-blossom pink. Think of it as a food-friendly thought provoker.

WINEMAKER Gerhard Swart
WO Western Cape
TASTING NOTES First impressions are crushed summer berries and black and red cherries, upheld by subtle spicy tones. On the palate multiple berry flavours with a fruity finish.
WE LOVE IT WITH Tempura Argentinian Prawn and Quinoa Sushi


Tempura Argentinian Prawn Quinoa Sushi Recipe

Laibach Pinotage Rosé

This vineyard had its humble beginnings in 1818. Bought and farmed by Dutchman Daniel Johannes van Rynveld, it was originally known as “Good Success”. It was later broken up into three different farms, wherein 1994 entrepreneur Friedrich Laibach bought “Good Success” and renamed it Laibach, his namesake. Laibach Pinotage Rosé is a wine for summer, but with enough character to complement sushi and seafood dishes.

WINEMAKER Francois van Zyl
WO Simonsberg
TASTING NOTES On the nose candyfloss, wildberry and some strawberry clearly evident. On the palate delicious fruity flavours balanced with an almost creamy acidity.
WE LOVE IT WITH Sesame Crusted Salmon with Shaved Fennel and Tomato Salad
RSP Approx R85 per bottle

Van Loveren Perlé le de Jean Pinot Grigio Rosé

Rosé has been described as “romance in a bottle”. Versatile and elegant, this popular wine style has been gaining ground all over the world among both male and female oenophiles, and this has led to a whole plethora of varieties being used to produce it. 

The latest variety to join this wine style in South Africa is Pinot Grigio, and Van Loveren Wine Family Vineyards in the Robertson Valley decided to dedicate South Africa’s first Perlé-styled Pinot Grigio Rosé to the late Retief matriarch, Jean, who was well-known for her love of gardening and the lush garden she, with husband Hennie, established at the estate, starting in 1939. This passion is reflected in the label design of the Perlé de Jean Pinot Grigio 2018.

WINEMAKER Chris Crafford
WO Bonnievale- between the Langeberg and Riviersonderend Mountain ranges.
TASTING NOTES Fresh notes of raspberries, strawberries, fresh red currant, ripe citrus and melon, with a subtle undertone of lemon.
WE LOVE IT WITH Watermelon and Labneh Salad with Granola and Fresh Mint

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

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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