A Rosé by any Other Name…


You’d expect any wine with the word “rosé” on the label to be pink, and indeed some of them are. However, a great many rosés are not pink at all, but range from a pale orange to a faint purple, depending on the grapes used and the way the wine was made.

There are different ways of making rosé. Contrary to popular belief, they are not made by simply chucking of bucket of red wine into a barrel of white, at least not any more. The most common method involves using “red” wine grapes. After crushing, the skins are kept in contact with the juice, because they contain the colour and the tannin. The longer they are left in contact, the more intense the colour and body of the wine. After a couple of days and sometimes a lot less, the juice is drained off the skins and left to ferment in different container.  For this reason, rosé wines are nearly always simple affairs, with a delicate taste and aroma; perfect for an al fresco light meal.

Harvesting at Khao Yai vineyard. Harvesting at Khao Yai vineyard.

Rosés are nearly always dry and best served really cold. These fresh, delicate wines make an excellent welcome wine before dinner. Rosé wines from the USA (often known as “blush” wines) tend to be rather sweet, which is fine I suppose, if you happen to like that kind of thing.

PB Valley Khao Yai Reserve Rosé 2009, Thailand. (Villa Bt. 585)

This wine really is pink – a lovely dusky soft pink, with hints of orange and a pleasing, slightly oily appearance in the glass. It comes from the Khao Yai winery near the National Park of the same name, just south of Nakhon Ratchasima. There’s a delicate floral aroma with hints of pineapple, pomelo and strawberry with pleasing reminders of herbs and pepper.

This light-bodied wine is dry, crisp and clean-tasting, with slightly sweetish overtones. The pepper comes through on the taste because the wine is made from a blend of Colombard and Shiraz grapes. The Shiraz adds the peppery quality. With its long finish and 12% alcohol content, it would be excellent to drink on its own. Like all rosé wines, it tastes better well-chilled. An hour or so in the fridge should do the trick. The bottle label suggests that it would make a good partner for most hot and spicy Thai dishes.

Khao Yai wines seem to sell quite quickly, so you may need to go a-hunting. I’m told that these wines are normally available at Best Pattaya Centre, Friendship, Supamitr Store, Food Mart and Foodland.

Lagarde Rosé Vin de Pays d’Oc 2008, France. (Friendship Bt. 405)

This is a very typical rosé from the South of France, made from a blend of Syrah and Cinsault grapes. Syrah (see-RAH) is simply the French name for Shiraz – the grapes are exactly the same. Cinsault (SAN-soh) is a local variety that is grown extensively throughout the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France.

This wine is not so much pink, but more of an attractive onion-skin colour and it has a delicate fresh, grassy aroma. It’s a pleasant, dry, light-bodied wine with a faint reminder of pepper and just the suggestion of sweetness. An attractive dash of acidity gives it zest. This is the kind of refreshing wine to drink on a warm summer’s evening – the perfect apéritif. It’s light enough to go it alone without food but as a food partner, it would be best with simple dishes such as salads, quiche or party snacks. It would be perfect with an omelette. Serve it really, really cold. The wine I mean, not the omelette.