Southern France has long been the leader when it comes to rosé wines. These light red, sometimes pinkish-orange wines, are the perfect complement for a variety of dishes thanks to their freshness and light tannins. Today, Italian rosé wines are claiming their own time in the spotlight. Due to the country’s varied climates, Italy puts forth rosé wines in varied styles and taste profiles that make it the new go-to country for rosé wines.
Pretty in Pink
First, let’s dispel some myths about rosé wine. Rosé is not made from pink grapes but is usually made from red grapes. If you squeeze a red grape, you’ll see the juice that comes out is clear. Like red wines, rosé wines achieve their color not from the juice, but from the juice’s contact with the grape skins. Sometimes you’ll hear these wines referred to as “skin-contact” wines. Rosé is made from skin-contact with red grapes, while orange wines are made from skin-contact with white grapes.
For rosés, winemakers usually allow the grape’s juice to soak with its skins only for a few hours. When it comes to red wines, the grape’s skin, and juice remain in contact, sometimes for days or weeks. Hence the reason red wines are a deep color and rosé wines are a shade of pink. Each winemaker makes their own decision on how long the skins and juice remain in contact based on the color and taste that they want. After the winemaker obtains the desired color and taste, the wine then goes into fermentation.
Most rosé wines are aged and fermented in stainless steel tanks. They do not typically spend time in oak barrels. Therefore, the resulting wines generally have a fresh vibrant, and crisp profile. Of course, each one is different based on the soil in which it is grown, the region’s climate, and the winemaker’s hand.
4 Italian Rosés To Drink This Spring
The varied cuisines of spring and summer months are great partners for rosé wines. Fresh seafood, lighter salads, and even grilled meats pair nicely with rosé wines. So, instead of your usual red or white wine, try an Italian rosé when you’re out at a restaurant or making a selection at your favorite wine store. Here are my top Italian rosé wine picks for this season.
La Spinetta: Il Rosé di Casanova — Tuscany
The Rivetti family owns La Spinetta with two properties in Piedmont and Tuscany. Its Tuscan property is where it produces its Rosé di Casanova. This wine is made from two red grapes — 50% Sangiovese and 50% Prugnolo Gentile — that are fermented in stainless steel. As a result, Winemaker Giorgio Rivetti brings us a fresh, crisp style with notes of freshly picked cherries and soft hints of watermelon.
Pair with: grilled octopus and potato salad, shrimp, or turkey burgers.
Garofoli: Montepulciano Rosato Kòmaros — Le Marche
Cantina Garofoli dates back to the end of the 1800s when Antonio Garofoli made wine for the local townspeople in Le Marche. A coastal area in central Italy that borders Umbria, Emilia Romagna, Abruzzo, and Tuscany. Today, the Garofoli properties are still family-owned and run by the family’s fourth and fifth generations.
Its Kòmaros Rosato wine is made from the Montepulciano grape and the coastal climate influences the resulting taste profile. With a slight salinity that reminds you of the ocean, the wine is refreshing with a bracing, yet balanced, acidity. It’s fruit-forward with hints of cherry and strawberry, and a hint of spice at the end.
Pair with: sunny-side up egg with shaved truffle, asparagus risotto, and fruit salads.
La Valentina: Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Superiore Spelt
Historically, Abruzzo has produced inexpensive bulk wine. Now, new generations of winemakers are changing that trend, and Fattoria La Valentina is leading the way. Their Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo Speriore Spelt is made from the grape Montepulciano d’Abruzzo which is regionally known as Cerasuolo. Quite different in appearance than many other rosé wines, it has a deep fuchsia pink hue thanks to its contact with the grape skins for 18 hours. It’s also richer in body than most other rosé wines. It displays notes of strawberries and spice on a full-bodied palate that ends with a nice mineral tinge.
Pair with: blue cheese burgers, BBQ ribs, grilled chicken atop arugula, feta cheese, and strawberries.
Cantine Elvio: Tintero Rose — Piedmont
Cantine Elvio Tintero is located within the Cuneo province in Piedmont in northwestern Italy. The property has been in the family for three generations. This selection is made from a blend of the red grape Barbera and the white grape Arneis. Its result is a fresh, vibrant, almost spritz style that has an ever-so-faint pink hue. Raspberry, strawberry, and cherry notes jump from the glass. The end has a soft, pleasant spice note.
Pair with: tagliatelle with mushrooms, raw oysters, and ceviche.