What Does Rosé Taste Like?

Though it has seen a resurgence in popularity in the last 10 years, rose wine is considered one of the oldest known types of wine. It’s very likely that the first red wines were closer in appearance to modern rosé then they were to what we think of as red wine now.

A popular choice for snappy T-shirt slogans and afternoon brunches alike, this luxurious pink wine comes in an array of tones and tastes. Some types of rosé are a lighter pink, while others reach a darker hue.

If you’ve never had rosé before, it may seem to be something between a white wine and a red wine. If you see it on the pairing menu at your favorite restaurant, it’s best to know what rosé tastes like before you order the bottle.

In general, the taste of rosé resembles the flavors of a very light red wine. However it is brighter and much more crisp, with tones reminiscent of red fruits and flowers. Sweet rosé and dry rosé will of course be, as the name suggests, sweeter or more dry.

What Does Rosé Taste Like? 

When it comes to the way rosé is produced, there are three usual methods. Those three methods are skin contact, saignée, and blending. Rosé wine can also be still, semi-sparkling, or full out sparkling.

Sweet And Dry

Rosé can be had in a very wide range of sweetness to dryness. Highly dry Provencal rosé, for example, will have a slightly different profile than a sweet White Zinfandel, or other blushes. The grapes used to make rose, typically black grapes, can be found all around the world.

Examples of sweet rosé usually come from New World producers. Sweet rosé will always pair best with savory foods. 

On the other side of the coin, dry rosé wines have a lower sugar level and are much higher in tannins. Tannins are the element in wine that will contribute to that flavor of “dryness”, as well as bitterness and astringency.

How To Tell If Rosé Is Dry Or Sweet 

Some might tell you that, as a rule, lighter rosés will bear a sweeter taste. Conversely, a darker bottle will have a dryer taste. However, this isn’t always the case. For example, Provence rosé is light and tone, but dry on the tongue.

The best way to tell if your Rosie is dry or sweet, or somewhere in between, your best bet is to look at the bottle. Most manufacturers will list on their label whether the product inside is softly sweet or daringly dry.

Some roses are absolutely syrupy in how sweet they are. Others are going to be bone dry. Neither one is better or worse than the other, and which you drink is purely a matter of preference.

In general older Jose varieties that were brewed in France or in Spain are going to be on the dryer side. Newer roses on the scene will typically be sweeter. The region where the grapes that go into your rosé are grown will help decide what the final taste will be.

General Taste

In a broad, general sense, what does rosé taste like? For the most part, when you are envisioning the flavor of rosé, consider a very light red wine. Take that vision, however, and make it much brighter, with an air of crispiness.

The flavors associated with rosé wine include red fruits, like strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. You will also detect decadent floral notes, such as roses. Careful tasting will also reveal citrus, melon, and even celery. 

How To Drink Rosé

To get the most out of your Rosie tasting experience, it should be chilled. The ideal temperature for a glass of rosé is between 50 and 60°F

While any white wine glass will do, the best rosé flavor will come from it being enjoyed out of a wine glass made specifically for it. rosé wine glasses typically have a short bowl that ends in a slight taper. You might also see them with a delicately flared lip.

Popular Types Of Rosé 

Painting itself with such a broad brush means that this pink drink has a lot to offer in terms of sheer variety. Blends from France, Spain, Italy, the US, and every other corner of the world will have their own spins on the drink. 

White Zinfandel 

This off-dry or sweet blend of rosé is newer on the scene to producing this very old variety of wine. White Zinfandel rosé was invented by Sutter Home Family vineyards, by a winemaker named Bob Trinchero. It was first produced in 1948, as the result of stuck fermentation processes and a happy accident.

White Zinfandel is considered a sophisticated brand of rosé. During the 1980s, poor marketing unfortunately gave White Zinfandel the reputation as being cheap, and far too sweet. Some are not even aware that White Zinfandel, is in fact, a rosé. However, by proper classification, it falls correctly under the label.

What Does White Zinfandel Taste Like? 

Made from grapes of the same name, White Zinfandel has moderately high acidity. Among the notes of a White Zinfandel, tasters are liable to detect strawberry, melon, and tart lemon.

To add complexity, a White Zinfandel that was produced in a warmer climate will display notes of blackberry, pepper, or even anise. Gentle, crisp acidity are trademarks of White Zinfandel.

On the other hand, White Zinfandel that originates in colder places will be stronger on the side of raspberry and strawberry.

Because White Zinfandel contains multitudes itself, you will find some that are sweeter on the tongue, while others are on the dryer side. The specific notes that you’ll encounter in each bottle of White Zin are going to depend on the winemaker, the vintage, and sometimes even the time of day that the grape was harvested.

As for pairings, that will depend heavily on if you are drinking a sweet or dry White Zin. Sweeter bottles are best when put with soft cheeses, finger foods, or smoked meats. That makes them the ideal sidekick to a well-laid charcuterie board.

If you seek to pair a bottle of White Zinfandel that is on the dryer side with a meal, think foods that you’d eat in the summer. Salads, fish, crab cakes, and acidic foods like tomatoes and citrus are all ideal companions for dry White Zinfandel. 

Rosé Champagne 

Once seen as a frivolous endeavor by champagne houses, rosé champagne has, in recent years, accounted for an increasingly large share of the sales by UK wineries. This luxurious, bubbly blend is made from multiple varieties of grapes. These grapes include Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, among others.

Different brands of rosé champagne will have slightly different flair to them. However, you will find a delicate, summery, florality perfuming each sip of this decadent drink. That summer feeling sweetly slides in with notes of pastry, cherries, and even pomegranate. Some brands will include a green apple-like taste. 

Being that it is champagne, you should of course expect rosé champagne to be beautifully fizzy.

Tavel Rose

Originally from the Rhône wine region of France, across from the Rhône River, this type of rosé has a history of being a favorite among people of high status, or at least of high recognizability. Such figures of history who have reported Tavel rosé as being their favorite includes Philippe le Bel, Louis XIV, and 20th century writer Ernest Hemingway.

This storied favorite is a rare type of rosé that will benefit well from aging. As a full-bodied, very structured wine, some say that Tavel rosé contains all of the characteristics of a good red wine, albeit with less color.  

The flavor is robust and very dry. When compared to other types of rosé, Tavel is earthier, nuttier, and much more savory. That nuttiness is especially prevalent in more aged bottles of Tavel. Younger ones will have a profile more reminiscent of crisp summer flavors. Similar to its siblings, Tavel rosé carries with it distinct fruit notes.

With an assertive punch, Tavel is a perfect pair for succulently barbecued meats. 

Mourvedre Rose 

First fermented by cellarmaster Charl Coetzee in 2011, this light salmon colored rosé is popular for ringing in the warmer weather of springtime. The original brewing of this wine started out as an experiment. The cellarmaster used mourvédre grapes to create this new type of rosé.

Mourvédre grapes are a cultivar rarely seen in the making of rosé, meaning that this bold experiment was one of the first of its kind. This thesis wound up being a stunning success, resulting in a drink that is enjoyed all around the world. 

This sophisticated salmon colored rosé is elegantly dry, carrying delectable hints of raspberries and a bouquet of lilacs and rose. Adding depth to the flavor, tasters will detect creamy strawberry yogurt and the nostalgic saccharine sweetness of cotton candy. A sly undercurrent of acidity runs through the entire batch.

Some brands of rosé mourvédre will carry with them aromas of red currant, grilled peaches, and deep brown sugar. These flavors run flush with sharp tannins and the zestiness of Summer grapefruit.

Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 

Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is a deep ruby red variety of rosé that tastes much more similar to red wine than its pink cousins. Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé is made with the saignée method of rosé wine making.

Saignée, which literally means ‘bleeding’ or ‘to bleed’ in French, is a process in which rosé is made as a byproduct of red wine fermentation. In this process, a portion of the juice from the grape must is removed early in the process. It is then fermented separately to produce rosé.

Typically with the saignée method, the color of the final product depends on the time the juice spent “on the skins”. With Cabernet Sauvignon rosé, which is rather dark, one will be able to determine that this rosé was made with quite a bit of time “on the skin” of the rich black grapes that it is made with.

The flavor of cabernet sauvignon rosé is semi-dry, with notes reminiscent of green bell pepper, sauced cherries, and black currant. Peppery spices add a complexity to the final taste, and a heightened acidity is the result of this rosé not being aged in oak.

The delicate bouquet is fragrant, floral with cassis notes to lift the entire experience. A fresh palette, with subtle notes of crisp blackberry and red currant, supports a long, persistent finish. 

Provence Rose

As the name suggests, Provence rosé is from the Provence region of France. Some consider it to be the ‘little black dress’ of pink wines. The reason for this designation is that it goes well with almost anything. This dry rosé is right at home for any dish, from a juicy burger, to a summer charcuterie board.

Masterfully blended with a plethora of grapes, this pale, pink rosé has fruity and lean flavors of apricot, citrus, and even lychee. These flavors are complex, punctuated with bold floral notes. 

It is a light bodied wine, with a relatively unnoticeable presence of tannins. In other brands, expect the aroma of rose petals, and fresh cut watermelon. There is a surprising, but not unwelcome, salty minerality that rests on the palate with every sip of Provence rosé. 

Sangiovese Rose 

This Italian rosé is made from the country’s top grape variety, the sangiovese. Despite the high profile of this grape cultivar, it is actually rather rare to see it made into a rosé. Some consider this to be quite a shame. When it does undergo the process to become one though, the end result is delightful.

In most cases, you will see sangiovese rosé labeled as rosato, which is the Italian word for pink. The fruity flavors of sangiovese rosé include the typical strawberry and raspberry, with a swift underline of cherry. Expect a warm, comforting spiciness; notes of clove, cumin, and allspice add bold complexity to this type of rosé. Sweeter varieties will also reveal a subtle hint of cream.

Sangiovese roses typically walk the delicate tightrope between fruity and dry. Some brands, however, are firmly dry. Usually the label on a bottle of sangiovese rosé will indicate the dryness.

The tone of this rosé is a vibrant watermelon pink. That summary tone well complements the lively, luscious palette of sangiovese rosé.

Tempranillo Rose 

Tempranillo rosé is a pale pink, herbaceous rosé that touts notes of green peppercorn. Along with watermelon and strawberry, two common players in the makeup of rosé’s complex flavors, some tasters also detect a meaty note. This savory factor carries with it a hint of saltiness.

Tempranillo is a light, dry rosé, with subtle floral flavors. The finish is expectedly drying, pairing well with the distinctive taste. 

Many brands of tempranillo blend Graciano and Grenache grapes to increase the delicate florality of this dry rosé. 

A common companion to this type of rosé are spiced meats; ones with bold, heated flavors.

Syrah Rose 

Richly tannic and deep in color, syrah rosé is produced from grapes of the same name with equally robust tastes. Commonly made in the United States, Syrah rose is known for being hearty, savory, and even somewhat meaty. It is squarely situated in the dry end of the spectrum. 

Crisp blueberry and plum sculpt the landscape of this rosé, lined with red pepper and other rich spices. A notable smokiness envelops each sip, tinted with green olives and peach skin. This is considered a sort of ‘funky’ rosé, with its deep ruby pink color. 

That’s not to say that this rosé is all business; the deep tones of this rosé still support the characteristic strawberry, as well as a creamy vanilla yogurt. The floral notes aren’t swept away by the more assertive spices. Rather, you’ll find that they dance with each other in an incredibly complementary way. 

Serve this rosé with the heartiest of meals. Think stews, paella, or chili.

Pinot Noir Rose 

An earthier type of rosé, Pinot Noir grapes are known to be particularly fussy. Temperamental to changes in weather, especially extreme highs or lows, Pinot Noir grapes require a delicate rearing. 

They’ll usually thrive in more temperate climates like the Napa and Sonoma counties of california. These counties produce some of the most delicious Pinot noir and rosés alike. The old world home of Pinot Noir, at least in the sense of the traditional wine, is Burgundy.

Because of their delicate ways, Pinot Noir rosé will usually have a hefty asking price. 

The flavor is well worth the expense, however, as Pinot Noir rosé has a lively acidity and delicate strawberry tastes. Cool watermelon and raspberries intermingle with wet stone for an elegant twist. 

Pinot Noir rosé, with its subtle crabapple notes, is dry and crisp. 

Grenache

In Provence, grenache is the most predominantly used variety of grapes. You will sometimes hear the phrases ganache rosé and Provence rosé used interchangeably with each other. However they are two distinct varieties.

Provence rosés will usually use grenache grapes, thus the assumed interchangeability. Grenache rosé is made entirely with the grape that shares its name.

This brilliantly ruby-toned rosé is among the driest in the world. Along with the typical citrus and strawberry flavors, notes of tart berries, cucumber, and herbaceous florals wreath each bottle. 

A taste of ganache rosé will start with the red fruity flavors, outlined by the brightness of raspberry and watermelon. The taste finish will have a zesty acidic tang. Serving grenache rosé chilled will enhance the zestiness of this wine.

Among the florals are tropical hibiscus, and a mysterious hint of allspice adds friendly complexity to the sip. Most brands will have quite a bit of color and body. All in all, this zesty rosé is perfect for a summer evening.

Montepulciano

Montepulciano was Originally brewed in the Abruzzo region of Italy. The pigmented skins of montepulciano grapes create the rich ruby hue of this rosé. 

In tasting, montepulciano rosé can be compared favorably to a European mulled wine. The rich spices and fruity flavors are warming and complex. In each sip, tasters will note the spices brought from cinnamon and cloves, paired along with dried fruit and orange peel.

Most rosés seem to lean on the idea of being a summer drink. Montepulciano shakes up that preconceived notion by having a wintry appearance.

Is Pink Moscato A Rosé?

Pink moscato is often thrown into the mix of rosé wines, simply because it has a soft pink hue. While it does share a few characteristics with rosé wine, when it comes to technical classification pink moscato is not rosé. Instead, it is a sweet dessert wine. 

What makes Moscato wines so sweet is the early end that is put to the fermentation process. Not only that, but Moscato grapes are naturally very sweet all on their own.

Like rosé, pink moscato wines will have a sweet summer berry taste, sporting apricot, peach, and red raspberries.

In short, pink moscato is not a rosé. That does not mean, however, that it does not have a place at the table for your next get together.

Conclusion

Rosé is a pink wine that is wildly varied and has a storied history. Rosé can run the gamut between being syrupy sweet to incredibly dry. However there is a general taste profile one can remember when considering what rosé tastes like.

Overall, rosé has the flavor of strawberries, citrus, and florals. Most commonly the florals you will find in rosé include rose, lilac, and hibiscus. Some varieties are spicier, or more savory. 

Every type of rosé is different in its own special way. Even within distinct types, different brands, and the area where the grapes these brands use were grown, will change what your final bottle will taste like. 

When confronted with the queries of what rosé tastes like, the best thing to take into consideration is the type. If you seem to find it on your restaurant menu, consider what you might be pairing with it with, or ask the server what type of rosé it is.