Spanish Rosé, you say?
may 11, 2020
Who doesn’t love a cold glass of refreshing rosé on a hot, summer’s day? Or even “rosé all day”, as the catchy phrase of many social media influencers and celebrities suggests? Though many people are familiar with this visually whimsical wine and its recent surge in popularity, they are not aware that rosé, or rosado in Spanish, has in fact become a high quality and well respected wine category on its own, an equal to its red and white counterparts. And one should feel proud rather than embarrassed about their affinity for it. We spoke with our resident wine buff, Raúl Orantes, about what distinguishes rosado from red and white wines and why we should be enjoying it with plenty of enthusiasm.
There are actually two words for rosé in Spanish: rosado and clarete, with the latter often used as a slang word for rosado. Though rosado is used as the general term for the pink wine, technically they are different styles, as rosado is made from red grapes with varying periods of maturation in contact with the skin, while clarete is made with both red and white grapes. Raúl made us aware of the fact that, while Spanish rosé used to be considered a style of wine, it now qualifies as a category all on its own due to the wide range of styles that fall under its umbrella. Rosado has a long history of being drunk amongst Spaniards, with families once using their backyard vineyards to harvest red and white grapes to consume in their homes in the form of rosado. The rudimentary and low quality wine produced was considered an “alimento” or “food” in English because of its everyday usage in familiar settings.
Recently, in the last 5 years or so, rosé has become incredibly trendy, which has greatly affected the wine industry and increased the quality of rosado made in Spain substantially. Raúl believes, and we certainly do agree, that the recent fashionability of rosé is due to it being the most photogenic of wines and celebrities and influencers on social media outlets such as Instagram have made pink wine photos chic and en vogue. The trendiest style at the moment is the Provence Clarete style, which is a very pale pink color. It isn´t just its beauty in the glass that has captured people’s attention, as Raúl tells us it is his favorite style due to what it does for the other senses. It is characterized by being very aromatic, high in acidity, creamy and having a fuller body than darker rosé styles. It is also more refined, fresher and more well balanced.
The Spanish regions that have historically produced rosé are Cigales, Utiel-Requena, Navarro, Aranda del Duero, Leon, and La Rioja. Before the recent international rosé craze, production was very low, almost disappearing all together. Now rosé is not only being consumed all day, but it’s also being produced all day! Wineries that perhaps previously made just 2000 bottles a year are now producing up to 20,000 bottles annually. And those who were not making the pink wine at all are now also getting in on the action.
In terms of grape varieties, garnacha has historically been the number one choice for rosé making, as it was previously thought that it was not capable of producing good red wines. Despite this theory being unequivocally disproven, garnacha is still almost exclusively used to make rosé. This is because, with garnacha, you can keep the skin in contact for a longer period of time without darkening the color and are able to add more character and fruit flavor to the wine. Tempranillo, a variety with a fuller body, is also used in rosado production to a much lesser extent but Raúl tells us that winemakers have to be careful because, if kept in contact with the skin too long, the wine can become a very deep, red color, too dark to be considered rosé.
So, why should we be drinking rosé? Who is rosé made for? Exclusively ladies who lunch and poolside party girls? Absolutely not! Rosado is for everyone, Raúl stressed, whether you consider yourself a white or red wine lover. Rosado gives you the best of both worlds, with the freshness and acidity of a white wine and the complexity of a red wine. There are between 800 and 1000 types of Spanish rosé and they are sold at every price range, from just 2 to 70 euros. Rosé can be aged and there are certainly some very high quality Spanish pink wines such as Tondonia and Pícaro del Águila, the former selling for 60 euros a bottle (reserva) in Spain and much more internationally. While previously it was made as an afterthought, Spanish rosé is now being produced with much more care, purpose and intention, which has increased the quality and complexity of the wine a great deal. Raúl urges us to try a glass as an aperitif or buy a bottle to enjoy with a pepperoni or salami pizza. There is never a wrong time to sip a glass of rosado or clarete!
As we bid farewell to the spring and set our sites on the summer holidays with a bottle or two of Spanish rosé.