Italian shades of rosé wines

Author: Marco Negro

With the arrival of summer, the desire for wines served cold and characterized by an intriguing aromatic profile returns. According to the most recent statistics elaborated by Wine Monitor – Nomisma, Italian production represents about 10% of the world production of rosé wines. Several market analyzes on the world trends of the wine market agree that the consumption of these wines will continue to grow in the coming years. The situation is currently the traditional one, with France consuming 36% of the rosé wines produced worldwide; followed by the United States with 15% of demand. The production record also belongs to France: 28% of the bottles produced by cousins ​​from beyond the Alps are rosé wines. Research institutes mainly monitor the choices of the so-called millenials, the segment of consumers who are driving trend changes in many sectors, including in the food and wine sector. Some analysts are ready to bet in a swerve in the choices of rosé wines among the thirty-year-olds: from rosé from Provence to rosé from Puglia.

a multiple variety of rosé wine shades

It is in this context that the birth of “Rosautoctono“, or the Italian Autochthonous Pink Wine Institute, was formalized last March. It is a consortium that brings together the denominations of 6 rosé wines from Italian indigenous vines: Bardolino Chiaretto, Valtènesi Chiaretto, Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, Castel del Monte Rosato, Salice Salentino Rosato and Cirò Rosato. The initiative of the six consortia is decidedly innovative: there are the conditions to give energy and impetus to the distribution of pink wines. It will obviously be necessary training and promotion, starting from the internal market.

Among stereotypes and innovation

Although the teaching on wines is absolutely widespread and relaunched in a synthetic version on social networks, rosé wines suffer from less detailed information. In the amateur courses there is little mention of rosé wines and the opportunities to taste them are rare. How many could describe one of the techniques that have made the history of Italian enology, the so-called “salasso“? leave in Italian And what about the “vino di una notte” (one night’s wine) technique with which for example the Valtènesi Chiaretto of Lake Garda is produced?

One of the techniques to produce rosé wines is the saignée technique (salasso in Italian, whih means bloodletting).
Everyone knows that the substances that give color to wine are anthocyanins, present in the skins. For this technique, the freshly pressed black grapes are left in contact with the skins. After a few hours, a part of the must is tapped and moved to fermentation vats, where alcoholic fermentation starts. The few hours of contact between the must and the skins rich in anthocyanins are sufficient to guarantee a delicate pink color to the wine.

There are many dogmas as to which is the most beautiful color for a rosé wine. There are many shades of pink: coppery pink, salmon pink, cherry or claret? The so different color depends on the grape varieties used, even more than on the maceration and winemaking techniques. It is therefore useless to orient the judgments based on the chromatic scale. Few examples to underline that the newborn “Rosautoctono” has an important educational work on rosé wines!

Information and clarity can make consumers more aware of the many efforts being made to produce high quality rosé wines. Indeed, in contemporary times, great attention is being paid to preserving the grapes intact, from harvesting in the vineyard to the cellar. The soft pressing and the lowering of temperatures allow the development of large bouquets rich in delicate notes. The aforementioned “salasso” technique is carried out by many producers in cryomaceration; the must and the skins remain in contact for a few hours, but at temperatures close to 0 ° C. A lot of efforts, possible thanks to technology, to preserve intact the aromas and primary aromatic notes of the original grape. In short, today pink wines are done skilfully and are so interesting from an organoleptic point of view that they can offer many pairing possibilities.

A toast with rosé wine

The market of rosé wines

In Italy there are very few rosé wine labels recognized as iconic; those who choose these ones usually already know and appreciate that wine. For the rest, much of the consumption is local and driven by tourism. Many Italians remember rosé wines by association with holiday times in Puglia, in the Salento sub-region: the rosé wines from Negroamaro. Almost everyone knows Bardolino Chiaretto from Lake Garda and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. However, these wines are not very available in Italian wine shops; turnover in sales is low.

Unfortunately, the exact opposite happens in the supermarket. Large sales volumes are guaranteed by promotions, but it is very difficult to find good quality rosé wines. These are often promotional actions on large batches of Bardolino and Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, produced by the large bottling companies for summer promotional campaigns.

Rosé wines struggle is in the catering sector. We talk about it with Lido Vannucchi, observer of the Italian eno-gastronomic panorama, who describes rosé wines as “wines with the color of a stupendous poetry, full of seduction”. Lido expresses his disappointment at the way in which many choices are still made in the restaurant business. “Too many wine lists are still based on famous names, on the list of geographical positions to be respected. Sometimes, restaurateurs opt to reduce the number of suppliers, thus reducing their card to the representative’s list. I dream of seeing more emotional wine lists. It would be possible if producers spent more time talking about themselves and their territory, to excite those who first have to offer the wine to the restaurant table! If restaurateurs and owners of wine shops visited more vineyards and cellars, they would give an emotional sense to their choice … and many more customers would discover unknown jewels of rosé wines, such as Pinot Gris Rosé that I personally love very much“.

A toast with rosé wine

Another characteristic of rosé wines is the concentration of consumption in a few weeks. It is a very short seasonality, often the only summer heat wave. The same happens in many other markets, where distributors cannot predict how much wine to buy, because they are aware that sales will last as long as the summer sun. In Northern European countries, summers are sometimes short and not even very hot. Thus, it happens that, in August, Danish, Belgian or Scandinavian distributors complain that they still have large quantities of unsold rosé wine. In the United Kingdom, France and the United States, on the other hand, consumption is continuous throughout the year.

A shade of pink for everyone

In the last decade, the assortment of Italian rosé wines has greatly expanded. To the best known rosé wines, which we have already analyzed, the pink proposals of many wineries have been added. Many producers have understood the potential of this special vinification, others now have the most modern tools in the cellar to carry it out. A novelty in the sector will be the arrival of the rosé variant of Prosecco Doc. The approvals for the modification of the regulations governing this Doc have arrived and it will be possible to produce the first batches of this wine by the end of the year. The color will be obtained by adding a percentage of Pinot Noir. Great expectations for the reaction of the three markets that drive the two consumptions, both of rosés and Prosecco: the United States, Germany and the United Kingdom.

We hope that this new path, undertaken by some producers and their protection consortia, will be that of collective work, a tool that will give identity and pride to Italian pink wines.

21st January 2020,

Marco Negro

Picture of Marco Negro
Marco Negro
Expert of communication of Italian wine. He has a knack for connecting people.
Picture of Marco Negro
Marco Negro
Expert of communication of Italian wine. He has a knack for connecting people.

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