When the sun is shining, there’s nothing better than a chilled glass of delicious rosé wine. We put our wine expert to the test in order to find the best bottles under £20.
In the last five years, rosé has become a fashionable drink of choice. This blush-coloured booze is delicious when served chilled, so it’s popular in the summer months, but it can be enjoyed all year round. Most well-known varieties of rosé will derive from the Provence region – although produce from all over the world are not to be dismissed. Our wine expert, Henry Jeffreys, has been tasting a variety of bottles (in all shapes and sizes) to find some of his favourites.
Porcupine Ridge 2017
Made by one of the Cape’s best producers, Boekenhoutkloof, this rosé is South Africa meets Provence at a bargain price. A juicy wine with the taste of bright strawberry fruit, it’s impossible to refuse a second glass. Available from Waitrose (£7.99).
Porta 6 Rosé 2017
Made in a fashionable paler style, compared to the traditional blush shade, this comes from native Portuguese grapes. It’s a spicy wine with notes of plum and pine, and has a bit more weight than you’d expect in a pink. Available from Majestic (£8.99).
This rosé has the sophistication of the classic Provence style of rosé but comes at a more everyday reasonable price. Clean and a bit saline with notes of oranges and herbs, it would be great with a salad Niçoise. Available from Tesco (£8.80).
This is one of the few affordable wines from Chateau Leoube (one of the grand names of Provence) and it really is a cracker. Made mainly from cinsault, you’ll love the delicate strawberry and herb flavours. Available from The Wine Society (£10.95).
This wine is made from nebbiolo, the grape that makes northern Italy’s finest red wines, blended with a little barbera to soften it in colour and taste. It’s gutsy and flavourful and if you serve it with some food, it’ll really sing. Available from Berry Bros. & Rudd (£10.99).
A bottle consisting of a blend of cinsault, syrah and grenache, you can almost smell the Mediterranean with the salty, citrus and herbal flavours of this wine. Available from Waitrose (£10.99).
Sancerre in the Loire region is best known for its white wines, but also makes some delicious reds and pinks from pinot noir. This bottle has a bright red cherry body and is perfect for superior picnic sipping. Available from Tesco (£11).
The abbreviated name, as you might have guessed, stands for Made in Provence. It’s so pale that it’s barely pink at all, and its flavours of lemon and thyme are more white wine than rosé – so it might be best suited if you prefer white wines. Available from Lea & Sandeman (£13.95).
And now for something completely different; a pink that thinks it’s actually a red wine. A deep, cherry red colour with a rich spicy nose, on the palate it’s meaty with a little tannin. This would be superb with some spicy barbecue food this summer. Available from Yapp Brothers Wine Merchants (£13.95).
If you judge how good a rosé is by how quickly the bottle disappears, this one is our clear winner. Perfect when served at a barbecue, everyone will love the fresh saline quality, peachy fruit and creamy texture that it brings. Available from Majestic (£15.99).
Although Whispering Angel is known for being a rather fashionable bottle, it's equally suited at home at a relaxed garden party among friends. You'll find it insanely moreish when the sun starts shining. Available from From Vineyards Direct (£17.95).
Rosé: what is it and why is it so popular?
How old should rosé be?
Rosé should be enjoyed relatively young. The 2017 vintage bottles will be arriving in the shops soon, but the 2016 bottles still taste good. In fact, the best pinks actually taste better with a little time in the bottle. But largely these are not wines for keeping, and you should be aware that their clear glass bottles can leave their delicate contents susceptible to damage from sunlight – which is why you should never buy rosé that has been kept in a shop window.
How pink should rosé be?
The Provençal style of rosé wine is now used all over the world. You get that beautiful colour from very gently pressing red grapes – usually grenache, cinsault and other Mediterranean varieties – so that only a tiny bit of colour (and indeed flavour) from the skins gets into the wine, resulting in that classic blush shade.
However, this is not the only way to make rosé. Just a little north of Provence, in the villages of Tavel and Lirac at the southern foothills of the Rhone valley, you'll find rosé that is very nearly red because they make pinks with tannin and lots of fruit. Darker styles of rosé are made all over the world, particularly in Spain and Italy. In Australia and other New World countries, rosé wine can be made simply by mixing red and white wine together.
How we tested
Our expert sampled some of the famous rosé names versus the best from the supermarkets and the high street, all ranging in price between £7 and £17. The wines were tested both in a formal tasting – one by one – and then again informally, served with food. Often, ones that didn’t impress on first tasting became the favourites after paired with foods.
Best champagne – taste tested
Best prosecco – taste tested
Over 100 tried and tested reviews
This review was last updated in April 2018. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.