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Get in the pink with winter rosé: Forget those heavy reds and overpriced fizz

Happy Beaujolais Nouveau day! It’s today, the third Thursday in November, that the French release new bottles of the popular vintage, just weeks after harvesting, with much fanfare and partying.

But now comes an altogether paler — and much more surprising — winter drink that, for those in the know, is giving big seasonal reds a serious run for their money.

Happy New Rosé Day, anyone?

Not long ago, the drinking of rosé at any other time than summer was considered irredeemably naff. Provencal pinks were the stuff of sunny holiday memories, not dark evenings in Blighty.

Yet you’re bound to have noticed supermarket shelves are as full of the pink stuff as ever. Indeed, Sainsbury’s recently reported sales of rosé rising faster than those of red or white. Lidl isn’t just keeping its stock topped up, it’s releasing new rosés — in mid-November.

UK-based drinks expert Helen McGinn picks out a selection of the best rosés to pair with a variety of dishes (file image)

Easy to drink yet increasingly sophisticated, rosé has reinvented itself almost completely. As styles of wine go, it’s absolutely made for the cooler months.

The reason? It’s incredibly food-friendly, combining the freshness of white wine with some ‘grip’, thanks to the presence of tannins. To get technical for a moment, tannin is one of the ingredients — a polyphenolic compound, to give it its proper definition — that makes up a grape. It’s found on the skins, stalks and seeds.

When making red wine, the skins of the grapes are left in contact with the juice so that colour and tannins can be extracted. Think of a stewed cup of tea, specifically the furry feeling left on the tongue when the teabag has been left in the mug for too long. That’s what tannin feels like.

Most rosé is made by leaving the juice in contact with the skins of red grapes for a short amount of time to give it colour and to take on some tannin, too. Not as much as red wine, obviously, but often enough to give the resulting wine a little more flavour and grip.

It’s this combination of freshness and texture that makes rosé work so well with so many different dishes. Anything with a bit of spice in the dish? Rosé is so often the answer. Tomato-based recipes also match well, as does turkey.

So, which pink wines are worth adding to your basket right now?

Here is a selection of rosés guaranteed to bloom, despite the drop in temperature outside …

FRUITY WARMER

Specially Selected Alsace Pinot Gris Blush 2020, £9.99, aldi.co.uk

Helen said Specially Selected Alsace Pinot Gris Blush 2020 (pictured) is great for spicy dishes

Helen said Specially Selected Alsace Pinot Gris Blush 2020 (pictured) is great for spicy dishes 

WHAT IS IT? One of a number of new rosé wines hitting Aldi’s shelves this autumn (gone are the days when new ones appeared only in summer). This bottle is made from one of the Alsace region’s star grapes. And, instead of separating the skin and the juice after crushing the grapes, they’ve been left together just long enough for the naturally pinkish-grey skin to add colour to the resulting wine.

Fresh and crisp with plump red fruit flavours.

BEST WITH: It’s great for spicy dishes. Try with katsu curry. 7/10

CHRISTMAS CRACKER

Studio By Miraval 2020 150cl, £25.99, ocado.com

Helen said Studio By Miraval 2020 150cl (pictured) is full of bright red berry fruits, best paired with roast duck

Helen said Studio By Miraval 2020 150cl (pictured) is full of bright red berry fruits, best paired with roast duck 

WHAT IS IT? With Christmas coming up, now is the time to supersize your rosé.

This stylish magnum from the producers behind Brad Pitt’s (and formerly Angelina Jolie’s) part-owned Chateau Miraval hits the shelves this month, and it’s made from a blend of classic Provence grapes including Cinsault, Grenache, Rolle and Tibouren.

Part of the blend is made in tulip-shaped concrete vats. The oval shape allows the wine to move around, with the suspended lees (the name for yeasts after fermentation) adding fantastic structure, texture and flavour to the wine.

BEST WITH: This one is full of bright red berry fruits. Try with roast duck. 10/10

CORAL SPRITZ

Found Vinho Verde Rosé, £7, marksandspencer.com

Helen said Found Vinho Verde Rosé (pictured) is best with salty snacks or chilli-flecked halloumi cheese

Helen said Found Vinho Verde Rosé (pictured) is best with salty snacks or chilli-flecked halloumi cheese

WHAT IS IT? A wine that usually comes in white, but this northern Portuguese gem has been given a bright pink twist by family winery Quinta das Arcas. Made from two local grape varieties, Espadeiro and Touriga Nacional, this is a truly beyond-the-pale rosé with buckets of redcurrant fruits and a twist of fresh lemon on the palate.

There’s a light spritz to it, too, making it the perfect aperitif.

BEST WITH: Salty snacks or chilli-flecked halloumi cheese. 8/10

BERRY BLEND

Leftfield Rosé 2020, £10.99, waitrose.com

Helen said Leftfield Rosé 2020 (pictured) is refreshingly different and should be paired with pork chops or a burger

Helen said Leftfield Rosé 2020 (pictured) is refreshingly different and should be paired with pork chops or a burger

WHAT IS IT? Leftfield is the perfect name for this out-of-the-ordinary blend from New Zealand’s Hawkes Bay region. Made from a slightly bonkers mix of the white grape Arneis (originally from the Piedmont region in northern Italy) along with red grapes Pinotage and Merlot, this really isn’t your average pink wine. It’s stuffed with crunchy cranberry and stone fruit flavours.

BEST WITH: It has enough weight to cope with pork chops and will even take a burger in its stride. Refreshingly different. 9/10

ROSY RIOJA

Lopez de Haro Rosado 2020, £10.99, majestic.co.uk

Helen said Lopez de Haro Rosado 2020 (pictured) is fresh, fruity and firm, best paired with lamb 

WHAT IS IT? Spain produces some of the world’s best — and most easily drinkable — rosé (or rosado as they’re known here) wines.

The Rioja region has always been most famous for its reds, specifically its oak-aged ones with their seductive black fruit, spice and leather characters. However, in recent years it’s the rosé wines from Rioja that have been turning heads and converting palates all over the place.

This one, made from a blend of old-vine red Garnacha grapes with the crisp white Viura variety, is simply fabulous.

BEST WITH: Fresh, fruity and firm, try with lamb, served pink.8/10

BOLD FLAVOUR HIT 

Bird in Hand Rosé 2020, £13.99, waitrose.com

Helen suggests serving Bird in Hand Rosé 2020 (pictured) with a chicken and chorizo stew

Helen suggests serving Bird in Hand Rosé 2020 (pictured) with a chicken and chorizo stew 

WHAT IS IT? Created by a top family-owned producer in South Australia’s Adelaide Hills region, this is a bold rosé made (mostly) from the Pinot Noir grape.

A relatively cooler spot, this suits the grape perfectly, making sure it retains its naturally bright raspberry and cherry fruit flavours. Aromatic on the nose, then take a sip and wham! The juicy berry flavours hit the palate along with a twist of citrus, keeping everything suitably fresh.

BEST WITH: Serve chilled with a chicken and chorizo stew. 8/10

BLUSH BARGAIN

Chateau Barthès Bandol Rosé 2020, £13, coop.co.uk

Helen recommends trying Chateau Barthès Bandol Rosé 2020 (pictured) with a plate piled high with charcuterie

WHAT IS IT? Bandol is a small sub-region in Provence famous for its big spicy red wines made from the Mourvedre grape.

But now it’s the region’s fairly in-your-face rosés like this one that are winning a cult following among in-the-know wine lovers. Most command much higher prices than this bargain from the Co-op, made from a blend of Mourvedre, Cinsault and Grenache grapes.

BEST WITH: Beautifully made with lots of ripe red fruit flavours on the palate and plenty of freshness too. Try it with a plate piled high with charcuterie. 9/10

JOYFULLY JUICY

Trivento Malbec Rosé Wine, £8, Tesco

Helen said Trivento Malbec Rosé Wine (pictured) is best paired with roast salmon fillets or a spicy bowl of pasta

Helen said Trivento Malbec Rosé Wine (pictured) is best paired with roast salmon fillets or a spicy bowl of pasta 

WHAT IS IT? Argentina’s star performer is the Malbec grape, but we’re more used to seeing it as a red wine rather than in pink.

Here, though, the skins and juice are left together just long enough to give the wine its colour, along with a generous dollop of redcurrant and grapefruit flavours.

Grown in vineyards that lie in the eastern foothills of the Andes, in the shadow of Mount Aconcagua, this is one fabulously juicy rosé which can take on quite weighty flavours, food-wise.

BEST WITH: Roasted salmon fillets or a spicy, tomato sauce-drenched bowl of pasta.7/10

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