Year after year, as spring and summer roll round again, wine drinkers just have to scratch their rosé itch. With such varying styles to choose from, there’s little chance of getting bored.
For under £20 it is easy to find light, fresh, easy-going rosés perfect for a picnic, as well as more premium, complex examples that can be enjoyed beyond the perimeter of the swimming pool.
Scroll down for 20 of the best rosé wines under £20
How is rosé wine made?
There are three main methods of making rosé wine: direct press, short maceration (including saignée), and blending.
With the direct press method, red grapes are picked, put into a press and crushed gently. The grape skins remain in contact with the juice until the desired level of pink is achieved. Sometimes a small proportion of white grapes can be co-pressed and co-fermented with the red grapes, which can increase acidity and freshness. This is allowed in appellations such as Côtes de Provence.
Alternatively, grape skins can be macerated in the grape juice for a short period before pressing and fermention – the longer the maceration period, the darker the colour of rosé. The saignée method is a type of short maceration, and typically involves bleeding a proportion of pink-tinged juice out of a tank destined to make red wine. The juice has been in contact with the grape skins for a short amount of time, and is therefore pale pink in colour. Often the remaining wine in the tank will go on to be made into red wine, but on other occasions the saignée method is used with the express intention of making rosé. Decanter’s expert Elizabeth Gabay MW says ‘producers are now choosing to make these wines separately from the red wines, harvesting earlier to maintain freshness.’ As a result, these wines ‘have both full-bodied freshness and darker colour,’ she says.
Some basic rosés use a small amount of red wine blended into a white wine. Most EU appellations do not permit this method, with rosé Champagne being the notable exception.
Does the colour of rosé matter?
Rosé wines can be found in varying shades of pink. Pale-coloured rosés, which are widely considered to be the Provence style, are often perceived to be less sweet than their darker counterparts. However, colour is not an indicator of sweetness, nor is it an indicator of quality.
Don’t overlook the darker styles; with some research a savvy drinker can discover some excellent examples which are bone dry, delicious, food-friendly and versatile.
They tend to have more tannin and structure than their paler cousins, making for a very gastronomic style of wine. They can be paired with any number of dishes, from vegetable and tomato-based Mediterranean-style sauces, to grilled meats and spicy dishes.
Rosé highlights from the list
The selection below showcases varying styles and shades of rosés from a wide range of regions.
For a similarly pale style from further afield, the Lievland Liefkoos rosé from Simonsberg in Paarl, South Africa, is a blend of Syrah and Mourvèdre and offers pretty, soft red berry fruit and a creamy finish. Or snap up a £10 bargain with the Myrtia Greek rosé made from the Moschofilero and Assyrtiko grapes.
Southern France’s IGPs offer great value too. Try Le Versant from Les Vignobles Foncalieu, a light and zesty rosé with a floral twist.
Best rosé wines off the beaten track
If you’re looking for something a little different but just as delicious, try the Nibiru Grundstein rosé from Kamptal in Austria. A blend of Zweigelt and Portugieser, it’s electric pink in colour and bursting with red cherry freshness.
The Zudugarai, Antxiola Rosado is a rosé version of the Basque country’s fresh and zesty white Txakoli. Just like its white cousin, it’s so refreshing.
For the gastronomic rosé lovers, the Casa Balaguer, El Rosado de Padilla Colleción Origen Monastrell is aged in amphora and is a gorgeous fuschia colour. It has bright cherry and blood orange aromas and a textured, full-bodied palate.
The recommendations below cover a vast array of styles, meaning you should be able find an affordable rosé for every occasion.