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Is pale rosé wine better quality? – ask Decanter

Don't judge a rosé wine by its colour alone...

It’s a misconception that pale rosé wine always means better quality than a bottle with a brighter, pink hue.

Any ideas about paler being better may have partly arisen due to the increased popularity of dry Provence rosé, and the related fall of old-style, Californian White Zinfandel.

Yet with so many stylistic points to consider in the vineyard and cellar, and such a large number of producers in different regions, it is naturally churlish to judge rosé wines based on colour alone.

‘While some connoisseurs tend to dismiss dark pink rosés, colour is not an indicator of quality but a feature to increase visual attractiveness,’ said Pedro Ballesteros Torres MW in his recent artice on premium Spanish rosé wines.

What affects the colour of rosé wine?

A rosé wine’s tone can vary depending on a range of factors, including:

  • the amount of skin contact in the cellar;
  • contact with oak;
  • the grape varieties used in the wine.

Thicker skins mean more potential colour extraction, for example.

‘If you’re using Mourvèdre, it just gives more colour,’ Nicolas Bronzo, from La Bastide Blanche winery in Bandol, told Decanter.com at the Decanter Mediterranean Fine Wine Encounter in 2017. ‘You can’t help it. It gives more complexity, structure – and a deeper colour.’

Bronzo said that the trend towards pale rosés has influenced winemaking techniques in some cases.

‘You don’t want it too dark. A commercial problem exists,’ he said. ‘We [solve] this by regulating the skin contact.’

In Decanter’s best rosés around the world tasting in 2016, Elizabeth Gabay MW found that ‘colour had little correlation with quality, but reflected variety and origin.’

She added of the wines, ‘A few were almost water-white, with little fruit character, suggesting that more effort had gone into appearance than taste.’

It all comes down to your own taste, of course. But the message is clear; don’t judge a rosé by its colour alone.

See also: Great value rosé wines for summer – reviewed by our experts

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