Sparkling Wine ‘Rosé Levels’ from Light to Dark and Hidden too
31st August 2021
I just recently finished a blind rosé sparkling wine tasting where 57 labels were judged and upon revealing what each of the labels were, there was quite a display of shades of rosé as well as bottle designs to admire. Across the world, northern to southern hemispheres from cool to warm climates, rosé sparkling wines are made which include (only recently thanks to Prosecco DOC) Prosecco and Champagne.
The beauty for many, the temptation even, is the thought of that rosé coloured fizz in the glass, for me this is the overwhelming ‘selling factor’ of rosé sparkling wines and why sometimes the rosé label, Champagne as an example, can be a few pounds / dollars more per bottle over standard brut/whites.
Shades of Rosé
The shade of rosé we end up with certainly varies from a very pale almost clear pink colour to a darker rosé almost red with shades of violet and orange in between. Rosé of recent years, thanks to the wines of Provence, have seen a lean of preference to lighter shades, though most shades still remain attractive with the likes of Saignée (blood red) rosé Champagne being a particular favourite to many.
The shade of rosé we get with our sparkling wines depends on many factors from the production methods to the grapes, mostly the colour is obtained from the dark grape skin with the longer the contact the darker the rosé.
When it comes to sparkling wines then producers realise and want to share the delights of the rosé shades they offer by presenting the wine in a clear bottle. This for marketing purposes is great though for storage it poses a risk of obtaining lightstrike.
It’s a battle between Marketing and LightStrike for Rosé sparkling wines
What is LightStrike? This is the damage caused by blue to ultraviolet wavelengths of light hitting and affecting the wine in the bottle.
With darker coloured bottles (the darker the bottle the better the protection), such as green and brown, the damage by lightstrike is massively reduced and the wine will perform better in the glass especially when having been stored. Due to sparkling wines having less tannins compared to still wines, they are more open to light damage.
You will also find coloured bottles with moulded plastic coverings or those clear bottles being sold with paper / plastic wrapping so to again reduce lightstrike.
With standard white sparkling wines, mostly you will find them sold in darker coloured glass bottles as there is little need to showcase the colour of the white wine – Sometimes you may see the like of Pet Nat sparkling wines in clear bottles so to exhibit the dead yeast / lees. A majority, I would guess around 95%, of white sparkling wines I have tasted, will not be presented in clear glass bottles.
Other ways to protect rosé sparkling wines in clear bottles will be via placing them in hard packaging such as boxes where many are, especially Champagne, presented so to preserve the wine better and again reduce that lightstrike.
Champagne is stored in cool and dark cellars to keep the quality within the bottle high.
Some wineries do their best to show, other than the writing on the label, that the wine inside is rosé by attractive coverings on bottles, at times this is quite effective if done correctly and not cheaply. Though is it as good as showcasing the rosé wine through a clear glass bottle?
Many people go shopping on brand name and design, this is a priority and forsakes the likes of quality and type (dry or sweet etc). Others will be influenced by the style of wine and quality so the likes of visually seeing the rosé sparkling wine through clear glass bottles will have little to no persuasion as neither will sticking to globally recognised brands over small producers.
Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.