"Rosé is essentially a red wine that’s trying to behave like a white,” says Mumbai-based sommelier Sonal Holland. The Master of Wine and founder of SoHo wine consultancy believes rosé’s versatility will make it a prominent trend in India in 2022—for it adds a celebratory touch to any occasion and pairs “wonderfully” with Indian food, combining the freshness and fruity notes of white wines with the depth and complexity of reds.
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Rosés are made with grapes used in red wines—such as Pinot Noir, Sangiovese and Syrah. The desirable “pink” colour is extracted from the skin of the fruit.
In the West, high-profile celebrity investments have been driving their popularity. Chateau Miraval, a much talked about brand, is backed by actors Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt. Invivo X is backed by fashion icon Sarah Jessica Parker. The newest celebrity entrant is Maison No. 9 by hip hop star Post Malone, who collaborated with a winery in Provence, France, for a “zippy and fresh” wine experience. “Rosé is for when you want to get a little fancy,” a press statement quotes him as saying.
In India, rosé’s versatility in complementing a variety of cuisines and multi-course meals year-round is being acknowledged. Even producers are taking note of an additional versatility factor—these wines can be bottled and canned. “Rosés fit the canned format well, unlike a red. The portable, single serve and convenient option allows it to directly compete with ready-to-drink options,”says Holland. There are canned rosés by Barokes Wines and TiLT by Fratelli.
Holland claims rosés have been doing especially well during the pandemic, with the demand for lighter-bodied drinks compatible with food, especially Indian vegetarian dishes, going up. “Rosés are a good entry point for new consumers as they are lighter on the palate,” notes Jayanth Bharathi, deputy general manager (marketing) of Fratelli Wines. This week, they launched the Noi sparkling rosé, priced at ₹950 a bottle (750ml). It is a prosecco-style, slightly sweet wine made for easy drinking.
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Easy doesn’t necessarily translate to low alcohol, for rosé contains 11-12.5% alcohol. “I would say it has moderate alcohol,” says Holland. Easy, in this context, implies lighter on the palate, minus the strong tannins of red or the distinct acids of white, for languid weekend drinking.
The perception of rosé as a woman’s drink is changing too. “It has transformed from being female-centric to a gender-neutral drink. We used to think of rosé as seasonal, suitable only for the summer, but it’s seen as an all-year-round wine,” explains Holland. Last year, she visited the Chandon India Winery, where sparkling rosés were served with Indian food like dal makhani, biryani and paneer tikkas and raita. “Curd is creamy and mouth-coating and the sparkling rosé cut through that quite nicely.”
“Juicy” rosés, she adds, also complement green leafy vegetables whose slight bitter edge is rounded off with spices in Indian cooking. Moreover, rosés pair well with dairy-based desserts like cheesecakes, tres leches and caramel custard too.
Gargi Kothari, founder of the wine consultancy and training firm Magic Cellars, offers a quick refresher course. There are broadly three types, or styles, of rosés— dry, slightly sweet and sparkling—best served at 10-12 degrees Celsius. She says the dry-style, pale pink bottles from Provence are the most popular. “The trend is shifting towards drier rosés. One feels fuller quicker while sipping on sweeter wines. Also, drier variations go better with food.” She believes prosecco-style rosé will get a big push in the future.
It may well be time to pick up that rosé.
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