A whiter shade of red

I’ll be honest with you. I’m not much of a rosé drinker. In my opinion there are three categories of rosé : the cheap stuff that’s made to knock back on a summer day (and get extremely hammered), the rosés that are a more serious effort but do not offer added value to whites in the same price category, and then the few really interesting rosés that have something unique to offer. I consider the latter to represent about 5% of all rosés. And perhaps that’s still an optimistic guess.

Are you already tearing your hair out? Good! Normally I try to be a bit more subtle, but I thought that rosé is the kind of subject that lends itself perfectly to a few bold statements. And reactions of course! But before you start abusing your keyboard, bear with me for a minute.

First of all, the cheap stuff. You know what I mean. It’s the rosés that you get in a bar or a simple restaurant as the house wine. They can be anything. From Côtes de Provence, to the Languedoc, Spain, or South America, you name it. They all have one thing in common : they’re light, fruity, very often taste of cotton-candy, and if you’re lucky, they have some freshness. They also need to be kept very cold, or they will become heavy and alcoholic. Is that a problem? Of course not. If you pay 3-4€ for a glass and it’s well made, then why not. But do I drink it? Rarely. If I’m sitting on a sunny terrace, I prefer to have a cold beer.

Secondly, the more serious efforts. I actually tried two of those in the previous days . IMG_0166The Château Roubine 2016, a cru classé from the Côtes de Provence, a blend of cabernet sauvignon, grenache, carignan and cinsault. And a wine from Bandol (also Provence), Les Hauts de Seignol 2016 (blend not found, but probably a good deal of mourvèdre, the main grape variety in Bandol). Honestly, the Château Roubine was indeed a serious effort, better than average rosés. I liked the elegance and restraint in the nose. Definitely not an in-your-face kind of rosé. It did have a very coating mouthfeel and ripe fruit. When it came right out of the fridge, it was alright, but very soon, the alcohol started to show and there was not enough acidity to balance that out. The Hauts de Seignol was a bit more in your face, and lacked the elegance in the nose of the Roubine. For the rest, a pretty similar profile: mouthcoating, ripe fruit, alcohol, pretty low acidity. Doesn’t really sound like bottles worth seeking out, right? With the Roubine costing 14€ I think you can find better bottles of white wine for a similar price, offering more complexity and interest than these rosés.


I had the rosés with teriyaki salmon. That actually worked pretty well!

And then there’s the few rosés that I do find worth seeking out. Actually, Bandol is a region in France where the more interesting stuff can be found. I remember the Terrebrune that I drunk at Jo’s. That wine was complex and layered, and had more than white wine aroma’s, also displaying red fruit. Pity though that Bandols are hard to find in the shops. And the supermarket Bandol that I had did not pay tribute to the great rosés that can be found there. But the best rosé I ever had was a wine from Irouléguy! “I-rou-lé-what?!”, you probably think. Well, it’s a wine area in the French Basque region. Mainly known for its reds based on tannat and cabernet franc. The wine I refer to is from the leading estate, Etienne Brana. I remember the Harri Gorri 2014 as very aromatic, with strawberries, red currant, and beautiful minerality. The balance in this wine was perfect, with ripe red fruit kept really fresh. A real sensation. But not available in Belgium… I bought it there for about 13-14€, a bargain I daresay. So they do exist, the good and interesting rosés. Then why are they not easy to find? The price is probably an obvious reason. People expect to buy quaffer rosé at only a few euros. 13€ already seems alot for most people. And not for rosé in particular, but any bottle for that matter.

So if 95% of rosés is not interesting, then why do supermarkets build walls of rosé at the first day of spring? Because rosé is inextricably linked to good weather. Let’s be honest, do you often drink rosé in the winter? Rosé is the drink that makes you dream of vacation, that carries the promise of good days to come, or reminds you of your trip that you recently had and that you desperately want to keep alive in your memories. Looking at it like that, there’s probably few wines that give you such a positive buzz for so little money…

Personally, I think there’s another reason why rosé is so popular. The color! IMG_0159Pink wine has a real aesthetic quality. Whether it’s salmon, rose, cherry, barbie, or tickle me pink, there’s always a special glow in a glass of rosé that I find mesmerizing. Looking at rosé is like looking at a big chunk of amber. Or like looking through sun glasses with pink lenses. Or like Edith Piaf sang: je vois la vie en rose

So, rosé is a feel good drink, and it looks beautiful. Great! Now all we need is more of the interesting stuff to find its way to our shops…

I’m curious about your ideas on rosé, so shoot!

5 thoughts on “A whiter shade of red

  1. Indeed, I only seek for rosé in summer. And then I even can enjoy a simple Cotes de Provence of 4 €. There are some that, for me, have a price-quality range that you can t find in white or red. That said, I was lucky enough to drink the Iroulegy rosé and that was other stuff indeed. Or like a Dutch soccertrainer would say: Other cook!
    Problem is, as you state, that the better examples are hard to find in our country. Reason is, I think, that the local people know the quality and drink them all up. I m sure that s also the reason why we don t find rosé s from the small aop Bellet (Nice) in our stores. A pitty, because better rosés are hard to find.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As a non rosé drinker, I must say that the majority of the rosé wines who convinced me, were Bandols. They are often more vinious than fruity.
    The statement about the colour is funny: a few days ago, I be just made a similar remark. The salmon rosé is to me the most estaetic. More classy than the darker Cabernet Franc. Probably because I link it to the Provence, which is to me the hallmark for rosé wine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you tried rosé port wine before? I only recently discovered it during my travels in Portugal. I’m not a huge fan, but it was new to me.


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