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13 rosés perfect for sipping on those summer nights

Whether you’re drinking poolside or pairing with a BBQ, these are the bottles to know about

Alicia Miller
Monday 05 July 2021 15:54
<p>Some rosés here are best-suited for knocking back poolside with mates; others are bold enough to pair with a barbecued burger</p>

Some rosés here are best-suited for knocking back poolside with mates; others are bold enough to pair with a barbecued burger

Hello summer, hello rosé. The season to drink pink is here, and however you like yours – pale and minerally, juicy and sweet, or blitzed with ice in an Instagrammable frosé – we have the perfect wine to suit.

For many drinkers, there is only one kind of rosé to consider. With its ultra-pale salmony hue, zippy fresh fruit and bone-dry finish, elegant Provence pink is popular for a reason. But rosé, just like red and white wine, is so much more diverse than we give it credit for.

In France alone, styles range from light and crisp to savoury and rich, with brilliant wines made nationwide – so there’s no need to stick just to the well-known south. Expand your rosé remit further, out to countries or even continents beyond, and you can discover unusual grape varieties, intriguing flavour profiles and a spectrum of enticing hues.

With that in mind, when compiling our list of best rosés, we wanted to incorporate a range of origins and wine styles – and, of course, price points. Some rosés here are best-suited for knocking back poolside with mates; others are bold enough to pair with a barbecued burger, or are at their best when sipped slowly on a warm summer evening.

All the best rosés, whatever their hue or particular flavour profile, have one thing in common: balance. Though most pink wines are made solely from red grapes – pressed or macerated briefly to transfer pigment and flavour to juice before fermentation – the finest toe the line between red and white wines, balancing the fruitiness of the former with the freshness of the latter.

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We tasted our best rosés with a panel of wine experts, taking into account each wine’s price point, typical regional style and general deliciousness. And, for good measure, we took each one out into the garden to sip in the sun. Because if a rosé doesn’t taste great on a gorgeous summer day, what’s the point?

The best rosé wines for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Maison Mirabeau Classic 2020, 13%, 75cl: £9.69, Waitrose.com
  • Best for rosé sceptics – Joseph Mellot sancerre le rabault rosé, 12.5%, 75cl: £16.99, Fountainhallwines.co.uk
  • Best for English summer evenings – Hattingley Valley still rosé 2020, 12%, 75cl: £19.95, Greatwine.co.uk
  • Best for poolside sipping – Château Gassier esprit de gassier côtes de provence rosé 2020, 13%, 75cl: £14.25, Vinvm.co.uk
  • Best for BBQs – Leftfield hawkes bay rosé 2020, 13%, 75cl: £10.99, Waitrose.com
  • Best bargain wine – Morrisons the best touraine rosé, 13.5%, 75cl: £6.50, Morrisons.com
  • Best splurge – Minuty prestige 2019, 13%, 75cl: £19.99, Majestic.co.uk
  • Best with seafood – Lyme Bay shoreline rosé 2019, 11.5%, 75cl: £14.99, Lymebaywinery.co.uk
  • Best savoury sipper – Chateau Ksara gris de gris 2019, 13%, 75cl: £12.99, Allaboutwine.co.uk
  • Best for red wine drinkers – Bolney Estate lychgate rosé 2019, 15%, 75cl: £15.99, Bolneywineestate.com
  • Best party wine – Aldi specially selected rioja rosado 2020, 13%, 75cl: £6.99, Aldi.co.uk
  • Best for picnics with mates – The Black Pig rosé 2019, 12%, 75cl: £9.99, Virginwines.co.uk
  • Best midweek treat – Sharpham pinot noir rosé 2017, 11.5%, 75cl: £15, Sharpham.com

Maison Mirabeau classic 2020, 13%, 75cl

Best: Overall

“Classic” is exactly right. If you’re looking for a quintessential Provence rosé that’s quaffable enough for parties, but still elegant enough for date nights, this bottling hits the nail on the head. A hop from glam San Tropez, Maison Mirabeau has a range of lovely wines to choose from, but this – the winery’s original – is top value for money, especially when on offer for under a tenner. Silky, red fruity and crisp in equal measure, it underlines just why Provençal pink is so popular. Our only rather serious complaint is that we found it difficult not to polish off the entire bottle in one sitting. You have been warned.

Joseph Mellot sancerre le rabault rosé, 12.5%, 75cl

Best: For rosé sceptics

Pale rosés (rightly) have their legions of fans, but this defiantly darker-hued number, made in France’s northerly Loire Valley, will steal the hearts of wine enthusiasts looking for something different – it’s savoury, structured and full of proper character. It’s a common misconception that intensely hued rosés taste sweet, but this number is deliciously dry, made with cool climate pinot noir grapes that lend a floral, raspberry, mineral character that will appeal to anyone who finds normal pinks a bit too frivolous. It’s great with food; we drank this with cheeses, grilled meats and seafood, and it stood up to every dish.

Hattingley Valley still rosé 2020, 12%, 75cl

Best: For English summer evenings

English rosés have come along leaps and bounds in recent years, and you only need to taste this Hampshire-made pink from Hattlingley Valley to see why they’ve been winning acclaim. Wind your mind back to lockdown one in 2020 – remember all that fantastic warm weather? This is the result of that sunshine; a deliciously elegant blend of pinot noir, pinot noir précoce and pinot meunier so flavourful our testers, when tasting blind, thought it was from France.

The cherried, red currant and ripe, sweet raspberry character – with a creamy mouthfeel and dash of pink grapefruit acidity – pairs a treat with English summer evenings. It’s only Hattingley Valley’s second vintage of this wine but bodes well for the future.

Château Gassier esprit de gassier côtes de provence rosé 2020, 13%, 75cl

Best: For poolside sipping

With its funky label and barely-there peach hue, this organic wine is crying out for a pool. It has all the hallmarks of classic Provençal rosé, with a velvety elegance and plenty of red fruit flavour – the palate sings with strawberry and cream. Still, it’s dry, fresh and complex enough to keep you interested with every sip, so you can savour its subtle spice and white fruit notes as you float along. A crowd-pleasing wine, whatever your palate; if only it was a few quid cheaper, it may have snagged our top prize.

Leftfield hawkes bay rosé 2020, 13%, 75cl

Best: For BBQs

The saturated millennial-pink hue of this Kiwi rosé is a definite departure from ultra-pale Provençal pours, and we’re into it. Leftfield is a new world wine through and through, juicier and fuller in style – there’s plenty of sunshine Down Under to ripen those grapes – and with a quirky blend you’ll not find in Europe.

Merlot, pinotage and arenis (a white grape) join forces to make a generously fruity wine – think cranberries and strawberries galore – and with a touch of food-friendly sweetness that will suit a range of dishes. A BBQ is a no-brainer, as it’ll go with everything from salmon and burgers, to sizzled sausages.

Morrisons the best touraine rosé, 13.5%, 75cl

Best: Bargain wine

With bushels of ripe strawberries on the nose and palate, and a zippy, citrussy acidity, this clean, fresh wine is a winner for garden parties, barbecues or picnics where you’re seeking refreshment without breaking the bank. Made in the Loire Valley from gamay and cabernet franc, it’s produced by Pierre Chainier, an established producer, and is top value at the price point. That zippy acidity means it’s also refreshing in a low-alcohol spritzer with a dash of soda water.

Minuty prestige 2019, 13%, 75cl

Best: Splurge

This wine is pure class. Pale as a sheet, and with a sleek minimalist bottle, it nails the textbook Provençal aesthetic; it wouldn’t look out of place at a beach club in San Tropez or Cannes. But don’t let that mild hue fool you. This wine is packed full of gorgeous character, with red and stone fruit, fresh acidity and a long finish. Minuty is pitched at a premium price point, at just under £20, but if you want to see the full elegance that southern French rosés are capable of, it’s a worthy investment for date night.

Lyme Bay shoreline rosé 2019, 11.5%, 75cl

Best: With seafood

With its tart cranberry and greengage notes – broadening out to general red fruitiness and blossom – there’s a subtle savouriness to this flavourful Devon rosé. A few sips into the primarily pinot-based wine and we were craving a platter of charcuterie, salty olives and gooey cheese; though if you want to be faithful to its roots, there might not be a better match than a simple crab sandwich. With a refreshing dash of acidity, Lyme Bay’s bottling is a perfect example of how rosés can feel grown-up, yet still retain plenty of that fresh, fun fruitiness that makes them so appealing in the first place.

Chateau Ksara gris de gris 2019, 13%, 75cl

Best: Savoury sipper

If you didn’t know Lebanon made rosé, well, now you do. And from the country’s oldest winery, comes this tasty gris de gris – a pale pink wine typically made from lightly tinted grapes, including pinky-grey grenache gris. Of all the rosés on this list, this is perhaps the most savoury, and it goes without saying that it’s a natural match for a Middle Eastern mezze feast, tagine or charcoal-grilled chicken. But peony notes waft through the nose and palate, providing lift and freshness, making for an all-around interesting wine to drink, even on its own.

Bolney Estate lychgate rosé 2019, 15%, 75cl

Best: For red wine drinkers

Perhaps it’s that pinot noir base, but this Sussex-made rosé has an almost Burgundian quality to it – making it a surefire winner with red wine fans. Despite that savoury creaminess, mind, there’s also plenty of minerality and freshness – with an acidity that creeps in slowly and softly – and a pretty rose petal note that feels distinctly English. Bolney is among the most established of English winemakers, having planted their vineyards back in the early 1970s, and their experience shows with this flavourful, balanced pour.

Aldi specially selected rioja rosado 2020, 13%, 75cl

Best: Party wine

Aldi does a roaring trade in quality wines under £10, and this bargain Spanish rosé is no exception. Generous, rounded red fruits and a hint of blossom lead to an off-dry finish; it’s really got its act together given a bottle can be yours for the same price as a single glass of wine in the average pub. That balance of fruit generosity and freshness makes it as pleasant to sip on its own as it is with food – which, as it happens, is a hallmark of Rioja rosés (which we should all be drinking more of, given they’re such brilliant value). A top wine for frosé, too.

The Black Pig rose 2019, 12%, 75cl

Best: For picnics with mates

Pink wine, at its heart, is about enjoyment. And when you want something refreshing, fun and easy to drink, enter The Black Pig. This Virgin Wines exclusive is made from a blend of grenache and shiraz from South Eastern Australia, and that Aussie sunshine means it’s packed with a palate of richly ripe red fruit, undercut by refreshing acidity. It’s an easy-drinking, crowd-pleaser of a wine that is sure to evaporate when you’re cheers’ing alfresco with your crew. It should be coming back in stock later this summer, but you’ll have to act fast if you want to snap up a bottle or two.

Sharpham pinot noir rosé 2017, 11.5%, 75cl

Best: Midweek treat

In case you didn’t know, the English summer weather can be a bit unpredictable. And for that reason this South Devon producer has opted to blend this richly rosy wine from pinot noir grapes harvested from their Dar Valley vineyards over two different vintage years. The result? A properly fruity, balanced and easy-drinking rosé that has both generosities of palate and freshness. The friendly price point – rather affordable for English wine, which tends to be on the costly side – means there’s no guilt in cracking this open for a cheeky glass mid-week.

The verdict: Rosé wines

Whatever your preferred style of pink, it’s hard to argue against the value afforded by the Mirabeau classic rosé. For little more than a tenner, it shows remarkable flavour and finesse. Saying that, if you can stretch a smidge further, the Château Gassier esprit de gassier côtes de provence rosé 2020 is excellent too.

Of the English wines, Hattingley Valley still rosé 2020 impressed us the most. But if you’re looking for something completely different the savoury Joseph Mellot sancerre le rabault rosé from the Loire is a richer, food-friendly style that we can’t get enough of. If you think rosé isn’t diverse, this bottle will convince you otherwise.

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If you’d rather a gin over a rosé, read our round ups of the best gins and the best tonic waters to pair them with

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