There are many misconceptions about rosé. “Colour is directly proportional to its flavour or sweetness level”; “only girls drink rosé”; “it’s made from blending white and red wine together from the spit bucket, right?” Wrong.

Here’s our guide to rosé and the situations that call for it.

What is rosé?

Rosé gets its distinctive pink blush from the relatively brief time (compared to making red wine) it spends in contact with the skin of dark grapes. This process is called maceration. The longer the juice is in contact with the skin, the deeper the colour.

This colour is often confused for rosé’s sweetness. Also wrong. A dark-coloured rosé doesn’t mean the wine is going to taste like blended red-jelly frogs. Some grape varieties, such as grenache, shiraz and cabernet, are naturally richer and denser than others, resulting in a rosé that tends to be more fruity.

Grape varieties lighter in style, such as pinot noir, nebbiolo, even pinot grigio, will naturally result in a lighter style of rosé.

How it’s made

Any winemaker will tell you that rosé is a labour of love and the hardest wine they’ll make in any vintage. One wrong move (such as leaving the wine in the press too long, or picking grapes too early or late) can drastically change what ends up in the bottle.

Apart from brief contact with skins, the other common method of making rosé is called saignée. Taken from the French “to bleed”, saignée begins as if with the intention of making a dry red wine. But soon after the process begins, a portion (or “bleed”) is separated and used for rosé. The remainder often then continues the process and is turned into red wine.

With a range of diverse styles of rosé on the market, we’ve put together a guide of what styles to pair with different occasions.

Mix and match

Picnic
A warm spring day in the park on a picnic blanket with a little Chet Faker playing out of your phone speakers? This calls for a dry rosé, preferably one made with a local Italian varietal such as nebbiolo or sangiovese, both of which have a natural density in the mid-palate, paired with bright cranberry fruit stereotypical of the varietal along with a dry finish to refresh the palate after each bite of food.

Barbeque
Even the quintessential banging Aussie barbeque can handle a good rosé. Use one of the more fruit-driven styles with a bit of spice (like a shiraz- or cabernet-based rosé) and pair it with chargrilled steak to counteract the fruitiness of the wine.

High tea
For those who want to feel pretty in pink, rosé styles of sparkling are often flavoursome and aromatic but also dry and crisp because they are usually made with pinot noir. Bursting with wild strawberries and raspberry characteristics, sparkling rosé is perfect for breakfast with croissants and jam; fruit salad with a pomegranate syrup over the top; or even something as simple as figs with goat’s cheese and balsamic.

On the beach
A light-style rosé is an attractive accompaniment to heading to the beach to watch the sun go down at your favourite spot with some old-school hip-hop playing in the background. This marks a great opportunity to chill your rose beforehand and try your hand at the frozé craze. A pinot grigio-based version is an excellent style to try this out on.

Rosé checklist:
Glassware in public: chilled wine glass.
Glassware at home: Nan’s good china cup with an umbrella.
What they'll tell you it pairs with: charcuterie, fruit salad.
What they won't tell you it pairs with: ants on a log.

This article is presented in partnership with Brown Brothers.