Tuesday 23 January 2018

Rosé is all the rage

Rosé - good enough for Noel Gallagher
Rosé - good enough for Noel Gallagher

If you ever play word association games, when it comes to rosé, your first response is likely to be something like "pink". It is not, I would guess, "Noel Gallagher". So it might surprise you to hear that when the former Oasis star was recently papped off Italy's Amalfi coast, in his hand was a glass of rosé, rather than the more likely suspects of a beer, guitar, or cigarette.

So now you know… rosé may be pink but it's not just for girls. Its popularity has been growing over the years. Miami rapper Rick Ross has been littering his lyrics with references to Luc Belaire, a sparkling rosé which comes in a cool black bottle, his mates Lil Durk and DJ Khaled are signed-up Belaire lovers too, and together they're called the Black Bottle Boys. They have logoed jackets and whatnot, and yes, in the age of influencers, it is very likely that money has changed hands for this level of endorsement. But you have to admit, it gets your attention, doesn't it?

Then of course, there's Angelina and Brad. Wedded bliss may be a distant memory, but they still have joint custody of their vineyard, Miraval, in Provence which produces a rosé. It was here that the dashing Brad proposed to Angelina in 2012; she said yes, he bought the joint for $60m, and two years later, it was all over. As they say, many is the slip between the cup and the lip.

But the appeal of rosé is much broader than the Hollywood celeb, hip-hop and rap scene. Whereas wine has been typically classified as red, white and sparkling, with a cursory nod to rosé as a bolt-on option for a few months of the year, the pink stuff is now establishing itself in its own right as a wine that has year-round charm. Robert Parker, the much acclaimed wine critic, may divide opinion when it comes to red, but on rosé, most people would agree with his criticism of the cloyingly sweet, mass market rosés that he describes as "distressingly commercial". They are easily identifiable, so if they're not to your taste, it is worth exploring the many expressions of this elegant wine.

There is one key thing to remember. When it comes to rosé, people often talk about colour. Pale good, dark bad. But it's not quite as simple as that. If you focus completely on colour, you miss the all-important nuance of aroma and flavour. The ultra-pale rosé, which is textbook Provencal (considered to be the spiritual home of rosé), has become the style du jour; but sometimes this can be a case of style over substance. The colour of the wine depends on the amount of time that is given to skin contact during fermentation. This is because grape juice, regardless of the colour of the skins, is clear; so in order to get a rosé or red wine, the skins are left in contact with the juice during the fermentation process. In the case of rosé wine, this is generally between two and 20 hours, but for red wine, a maceration period can range from a few days to weeks or even months. This doesn't just add colour, it adds structure in the form of tannins and fruit, and all of this adds to the flavour and body of a wine. This is what makes rosé wine so interesting and so varied. It's worth checking out the offers in O'Briens where many of the rosés are buy-one, get-second -half-price, which includes the lovely Petit Bourgeois Pinot Noir Rosé from the Loire for €15.95. Here are four other rosés you can try, but as always, ask the advice of your local independent off-licence.

Grapevine

The gin and tonic at An Púcán pub in Galway, made with Drumshanbo Gunpowder Irish Gin, Fever Tree tonic water and a zing of fresh red chilli and mango, has been voted the best in the country. If you're whipping up a few cocktails at home, check out Aldi's Old Hopking White Rum for €12.69 and Tamova Vodka for €12.99 which scooped silver medals at The International Spirits Challenge. Beer drinkers will love the one-off seasonal beer, Bang Bang Bock, from Five Lamps Dublin Brewery, on draft for a limited time in a number of bars including 57 The Headline, Bull and Castle, The Bernard Shaw and Graingers Cafe Bar.

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