Summer means rosé. And, when it comes to Italian wine, we don’t say rosé - we say, Rosato!
In Italy, Rosato refers to rosé style wine. With it being the country with the most grape varieties, you can imagine that not every Rosato is the same. This wine is known for its plurality - Italian Rosato wines have multiple distinct regional styles and grape varieties used in their production. They are produced in most wine regions throughout Italy, each offering unique expressions, meaning something for every wine drinker.
Let’s explore rosato wine and the 6 Italian rosés you should be drinking this summer.
What is Rosato wine?
Rosato simply means rosé in Italy. Rosato is the Italian word for "pink" or "rosy”. Rosé wines usually are made by allowing the grape juice to have limited contact with the grape skins during fermentation, resulting in a pink or pale red color.
In Italy, many grape varieties - like Sangiovese, Montepulciano, and Nebbiolo - can produce excellent Rosato wines. Regardless of their origins, these wines are often enjoyed alone as aperitifs or paired with food. Given Rosato wines' versatility, you can imagine how endless the pairings are.
What does Italian Rosato taste like?
Of course, their character will vary depending on where the Rosato is from and the grapes used to make it. Nonetheless, Rosato wines are known for their vibrance and freshness, extending a range of fruity flavors such as strawberries, cherries, raspberries, or citrus. They can vary in style from bone-dry to slightly sweet, depending on the winemaker's preference and the grape type used.
What kinds of Rosato wines are there?
As we know, Italy is very regional and this reflects beautifully in its wine! Let’s discover all the different types of Rosato in Italy, along with the regions that make them.
Abruzzo: Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo
Heading to the stunning region of Abruzzo on Italy’s Adriatic coast, we find Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo, a DOC rosato wine. Cersasuolo means "cherry" in Italian due to the vibrant cherry-red color of the wine. It is predominantly made up of the Montepulciano grape variety, the main grape variety in Abruzzo's red wine production.
Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Rosato wines are known for their lively acidity, medium body, and fruit-forward characteristics. They usually express cherries, strawberries, raspberries, and other red fruit aromas, along with floral and herbal undertones. The wines can range from bone-dry to slightly off-dry, with some styles having just a hint of sweetness.
Veneto: Chiaretto di Bardolino
Chiaretto di Bardolino is an Italian rosé produced in the Bardolino region, located on the gorgeous southeastern shores of Lake Garda in the Veneto region of northern Italy. It is renowned for its versatility and ability to pair well with a variety of dishes.
When it comes down to composition, Chiaretto is made primarily from red grape varieties, including Corvina, Rondinella, and Molinara, which are also used in the production of Bardolino red wines. The grapes undergo a brief maceration period with the skins to extract a light pink color, typically ranging from pale salmon to coral color quite similar to the ever-popular Provencal rosé.
Chiaretto in the glass is delicate and refreshing, offering a balance between crisp acidity and bright fruit flavors. Chiaretto di Bardolino exhibits aromas of red berries, cherries, and floral notes. It is typically a dry wine, although there can be variations in sweetness levels depending on the producer's style.
Tuscany: Rosato di Toscana
Tuscany, located in central Italy, is a major hub of wine production, specifically with the Sangiovese. While this grape produces elegant reds, it also produces lovely Rosato wines, independently or combined with other grape varieties, both indigenous and international. These other grape varieties range from local grapes like Canaiolo to international varieties like Syrah. The choice depends highly on the winemaker's style and preference.
With unique grape compositions and origins (remember, Tuscany is home to many wine-producing zones), Tuscan Rosato ranges in pink hues, from pale salmon to vibrant rose. Rosato di Toscana wines are known for their fresh and crisp character, balanced acidity, and bright fruit flavors. They often showcase notes of strawberries, cherries, raspberries, and citrus fruits. The style can range from bone-dry to slightly off-dry, offering different expressions to suit various tastes.
A Rosato from Sangiovese in the limestone hills of Chianti Classico is just the pick for lovers of Bandol rosé. It brings a similar complexity to the glass, filled with refreshing acidity and mineral elements.
Puglia: Rosato di Puglia
Produced in the Apulia (Puglia) region in southern Italy, these Rosato wines can be made with various grape varieties, the most common being Negroamaro and Primitivo. Negroamaro is a red grape variety also used to produce red wines in the region, while Primitivo is a close relative of the well-known Zinfandel grape.
Rosato di Puglia wines typically have a range of hues, from pale pink to deeper ruby shades, depending on the winemaking techniques and grape varieties used. They are known for their expressive aromas of red berries, cherries, and sometimes floral or herbal notes.
In terms of taste, Rosato di Puglia wines are generally dry, although some may have a hint of residual sweetness. They are characterized by their medium body, refreshing acidity, and flavors of ripe red fruits. The wines can exhibit a nice balance between fruitiness and savory elements, making them versatile and food-friendly.
Sicily: Etna Rosato and Sicilia Rosato
Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, produces many kinds of Rosato wines, using indigenous grape varieties like Nero d'Avola and Frappato. Therefore, these wines exhibit a wide range of styles, from light and crisp to more full-bodied, with flavors of citrus, berries, and herbs.
Generally speaking, these wines are often called Sicilia Rosato under their DOC. However, this denomination covers a wide area - Sicilia Rosato can be from all parts of the island and come in diverse styles. For example, you can enjoy a delicious Rosato made from the zingy, strawberry-driven Frappato grape in southeastern Sicily or a nearly purple-colored Nero D’Avola Rosato that’s exceptionally easy to drink.
There are also more specific rosato-producing areas. Venturing to Catania, we find the glorious wines of Etna. While Nerello Mascalese and Cappuccio produce refined reds, they also can make fantastic rosato. They are dry, ultra-crisp, and herbaceous, perfect for a hot Italian summer day by the beach.
A Final Note on Rosato
These are just a few examples of Italian Rosato wines, and there are many more regional variations throughout Italy. The best part is: you have options! The diversity of grape varieties and winemaking techniques offers you a wide array of flavors and styles to explore. And, what better time to start than summer!
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