Year after year, as spring and summer roll round again, wine drinkers just have to scratch their rosé itch. Luckily the rosé wine category is wide-ranging, with varying styles becoming more accessible, so there’s little chance of getting bored.
It is easy to find light, fresh, easy-going styles 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.
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Does the colour of rosé matter?
Rosé wines can be found in varying shades of pink. Some wine drinkers prefer the hardly-perceptible-pale-pink rosés, while others enjoy darker styles.
Pale-coloured rosés, which are considered the Provence style, are often perceived to be less sweet than their much-maligned dark pink counterparts. However, colour is not an indicator of sweetness, and as Pedro Ballesteros points out, nor is it an indicator of quality.
Don’t overlook the darker styles, because 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.
Somewhat unsurprisingly, France features frequently and there are a number of Provence rosés, including those from Mirabeau, Miraval, and Château Léoube, as well as the organic L’Apostrophe from Domaine Les Terres Promises.
For a similarly pale, Provence style, the Marks & Spencer Fleur de Lise from Saint Mont in southwest France is made by the innovative Producteurs Plaimont group and offers plenty of grapefruit and fresh citrus notes.
Southern France’s IGPs offer great value too. The lineup below features Domanie Gayda’s IGP Pays d’Oc La Minuette, and Domaine d’Ansignan’s full-bodied, light red-coloured IGP Côtes Catalanes, Les Grenadines.
Babylonstoren’s South African rosé is a firm favourite and the 2022 vintage, just bottled recently, is tasting great – fresh redcurrants and light florality, it’s salty, crystalline and pure.
Best rosé wines off the beaten track
If you’re looking for something a little different but just as delicious, try Matthias Warnung’s Basis Nobody rosé from Austria. A non-vintage blend of white Grüner Veltliner and red Zweigelt, it’s wild and pure, full of wild strawberries, thyme and earthy depth.
The Dido La Solució Rosa from Venus La Universal is a lively, upbeat take on Spanish clarete, made from a blend of Grenaches – noir, blanc and gris – as well as Macabeo, Carinena and Ull de Llebre. Well strucutred, herbal and saline with bright red fruit and a zesty mandarin finish.
Grab a bargain with the Thymiopoulos Rosé de Xinomavro from Macedonia in Greece; at just £16 it’s great value and its strawberry, pink grapefruit and bergamot notes explode in the glass and linger endlessly on the palate.
Tasted and rated by Decanter’s editorial team and experts, the recommendations below cover a vast array of styles, meaning you should be able find an affordable rosé for every occasion.