The world of wine

All the beauty (and tastiness) of Italian rosé wines

An essential guide to discover what rosé is, how it is made and what to pair it with, when dining

Pale pink, cherry, claret, onion skin and Provençal. The colours of rosés are endless, just like the types and aromas that punctuate this fascinating pink journey across the Italian peninsula. From Alto Adige to Apulia, crossing Garda and the extraordinary rosé classic method bubbles of Trento, Franciacorta, and Oltrepò Pavese, drinking pink has only one drawback: once you start, there is no going back. 

And do not let it be said that rosés are particularly appreciated by women, because this specious cliché has been long gone, like the one that the fair sex does not like wines that are too full-bodied. As always, it depends on the wine and the individual preferences that, naturally, is independent of the genre.

Making rosé wines

The colour of rosé wines, as with reds, is a consequence of the maceration of the skins in the must, which may take from a few hours to a maximum of two days. Rosé wines can be made using the “salasso” technique, the so-called saignée, consisting in taking a certain quantity of must from the maceration tank for reds. Then there are the so-called ‘one-night wines’, usually produced specifically and not subtracted from a red fermentation. Their name originates from the time in which the must ferments, about eight hours, as in the case of Chiaretto Valtènesi del Garda. Therefore, it needs to be made clear that it is absolutely illegal to produce rosé by mixing white wines with reds, with the exception of classic method sparkling wines, whose cuvée may include base wines vinified in rosé, but also blended whites and reds. 

A rosé wine for everyone

Much depends on what you like, because there are rosés as elegant as a silk scarf, others as powerful and muscular as a Mike Tyson punch. Among the very elegant ones, bright soft pink, marked by raspberry, are those from Valtènesi, in the province of Brescia, which are produced from an indigenous grape variety, Groppello. They usually go well with shellfish, vegetable dishes and fresh cheeses. Among the many producers, be sure to visit Costaripa of oenologist Mattia Vezzola, a true master in the area, who also works for Bellavista, the well-known Franciacorta winery.

Another area not to be missed is Salento, in Apulia, where Negroamaro lends a strong character to the wines, as well as a robust structure. These wines play on the nose between minerality and small berries (often a distinct blackcurrant), marked on the palate by good sapidity and structure, all qualities that allow for combinations that are not totally taken for granted, not least with white meats. 

Among the rosé bubbles, Pinot Noir is without a doubt the master grape that characterises a cuvée in terms of structure and temperament, as in the case of Cruasé (a cross between cru and rosé), the Lombard collective brand that is the standard-bearer for classic method sparkling wines of the Oltrepò Pavese that, depending on the period spent on the lees, are suitable as accompaniments for an aperitif or for more intense dishes, like an autumn cassoeula, or with a triumph of Piedmont-style fried food in summer. Of them all, Tenuta Mazzolino is worthy of praise, since it makes a decidedly interesting Cruasé. 

At the table, rosé wines pair nicely with any meal.

The best pairing for classic, still rosé wines is with a focaccia, a vegetable frittata, and also with a savoury pie or a pizza.

And bubbles? Perfect with anything fried.  These are our most mouth-watering tips: the tasty mondeghili, which are Milan-style meatballs, but also – to stick to Milan – fried porcini alla Milanese, or a creamy and irresistible dish like gnocchi al Gorgonzola.

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