Rosé think Pink

7th October 2021

Rosé de Saignée and Rosé Champagne difference

I have for a long time been a convert to all things pink maybe not expressed in terms of everyday clothing or accessories but certainly when it comes to a sparkling pink or rosé wine.

From nude to hot pink I am pretty much a fan of nearly every quality sparkling rosé out there. The problem is most consumers of still and sparkling wines are not. This begs the question, when is a pink too pink to handle. What is the tipping point for sparkling wine lovers who love their pink as long as it’s just not too pink.

Having judged alongside other wine professionals at this year’s 50 Shades of Rosé event in sunny Clacton-on-Sea and more recently at the fabulous Champagne Route in Wapping for The Glass of Bubbly Awards 2021, I’ve seen my fair share of pink sparkling wines this year. These sparklers have some great name categories too, from Spring Fling to Forget Me Not but what about the colour?

I’ve broken down those wine hues into various degrees of pink from barely there to well on its way to red. I’ve talked to other lovers and judges of all things sparkling. Together we have come up with names and styles of pink sparkling wines. Also we’ve taken a look at why dark pink should be less of a turn off than we think.

Starting from light to dark, here are terms used for sparkling wines and some styles that we sometimes (incorrectly) associate with those darker shades.

Fashion pink aka Provençal
Fashion pink is a wine that is barely pink at all, sometimes wines this pale in colour could be mistaken for white (that’s a whole other debate!) In fact the love of all things Provençal started this trend and now some sparkling wine drinkers will take nothing else.

The term Provençal pink comes unsurprisingly from the famous wine producing region of Provence in the Southeast of France. A derivation from the once Roman term provincial nostra (our province). It is perhaps appropriate that pale wines from here are currently seen as the epicentre of all things pale and where the fashion spotlight is firmly placed in all its barely there or nude pink glory.

Usually wines made in this way have had very little time on their skins (a process by which colour and sometimes tannin is extracted from the grape itself) and are released soon after fermentation is complete.

This pink colour can vary from barely perceptible to the palest of salmon. Usually enjoyed in their youth these wines are made using the direct press process whereby the skins are separated from the juice soon after crushing meaning the colour leached from the pigment is very pale indeed.

Wines both still and sparkling seem to be having their moment in the sun or should we say shade as the colour imparted is so minimal it can sometimes be hard to tell apart from its sparkling white counterparts.

People flock to pale wines made in this colour and can be considered the ultimate fashion statement for lovers of sparkling and still wines alike.

There are, however, plenty more pinks in the sea…

Onion skin
Onion skin sparkling wines can indicate a couple of things. First, as simple as it sounds the colour is a little more orange than pink and resembles a classic onion outer skin.

Sometimes wines this colour are either because the wine has spent a little longer on the grape skins and has taken on more pigment. Or this can indicate that a wine is a little older and starting to age. If the latter look out for more cooked red fruits on the nose and palate.

Salmon pink
Salmon pink wines fall somewhere between the onion skin and a deeper rosado hue. These wines like those to be found in the Loire for example. They still remain pale in nature but you can be sure that this is a wine of colour and not of no colour at all.

Other wines in this category can be found in Champagne, the only region in Europe where you can blend a red and white wine to make a rosé. This happens when red and white base wines are blended together. Most Champagne producers will use a small amount of pinot noir in this blend then the wine undergoes a second fermentation in order to create those legendary bubbles.

The mixing of red and white wines to make sparkling wine is possible in any new world rosé region outside of Europe, but Champagne is the only region legally allowed to do so inside Europe.

Until recently Cava rosados were anything but pale pink but as the Provençal pink has gained traction producers in Spain have followed suit and now many of the Cava’s coming out of Spain are nearly as pale as their French cousins.

Grapes such as Garnacha, Monastrell, Pinot Noir and Trapat are the only varieties legally allowed to be used for cava rosado which according to the Protected Designation of Origin the base wine having a minimum of 25% red grapes in it.

Look out for the rarer Cava’s with a deeper pink hue, though not so readily available, are delicious nonetheless and every bit as full of quality.

Hot Pink
This might not be an official term used to describe the deep pinks that can be found in some sparkling rose wines from regions of Italy or even Eastern Europe but it sounds great!

These wines are at the other end of the scale and are of deepest pink some might even say red, which begs the question when does a rose wine become a red wine (maybe a debate for another time!).

Contrary to popular belief a sparkling wine that is darker in pink does not mean it is of inferior quality, it just means that the juice of those berries has sat longer on the pigment rich skins.

The other myth around darker coloured still and sparkling wines is that the deeper the colour the sweeter the wine, also not necessarily true. It’s easy to confuse some well-known sweeter Californian still and sparkling wines which have more than their fare share of pink as being indicative of the wider market and this just isn’t true either.

Sometimes it’s difficult with sparkling wines to know the true colour that lurks behind the green glass. This is because the wines are protected from the light in green glass preserving the wines for longer which means its difficult sometimes to know what colour wine or what hue of pink we are actually buying.

However, much like the colour of reds or even the colour of whites don’t let the darker colours put you off but let’s embrace the rainbow of pinks out there and the variety of aromas and flavours that goes with it, surely makes for more interesting fizz drinking, don’t you think?

Written by Abbie Bennington DipWSET

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