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Best rosé wine – taste tested

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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 £25.

Rosé is currently the most fashionable wine you can drink. It has to be a very particular kind of rosé, mind; the colour should be what is known as onion skin, sometimes so pale it's barely a pink at all, and it absolutely has to be from Provence. Names such as Miraval, Whispering Angel and Made in Provence are much-coveted designer labels.

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The Provençal style of rosé is now copied all over the world. The beautiful colour comes from very gently pressing red grapes so that only a tiny bit of colour, and indeed flavour, from the skins gets into the wine. Happily, it doesn’t all have to taste the same: a Greek rosé made in this way will taste very different from a southern French one.

But this is not the only way to make rosé. Just a little north of the Mediterranean, in the southern foothills of the Rhône Valley, they make pinks with some serious heft, wines that are nearly red with tannin and lots of fruit. They also make darker styles of rosé all over the world, particularly in Spain and Italy.

Currently, the Provençal style is most popular – around 95% of the wines tested for this review were of that type, but whisper it, there’s a dark rosé revival on the horizon as people look for wines with a little more character.

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On a baking hot summer’s day, it’s hard to argue with the pale style. The flavours should be subtle, walking a tightrope between elegant and almost not there. They won’t knock your socks off like vintage champagne or an intense red, but with the best you will find yourself having a sip, then another and before you’ve realised you have finished the bottle.

All the bottles below have been taste tested by wine writer Henry Jeffreys. Henry is a drinks and wine writer who writes for Master of Malt, and his work has appeared in the The Guardian, The Spectator and The Financial Times. He is the author of Empire of Booze: British History through the Bottom of a Glass, which won best debut drink book at the Fortnum & Mason 2017 Awards. He’s previously written drinks guides for BBC Good Food, including covering all forms of fizz – from the best cava and best English sparkling wines to finding the best champagne. For more, visit our reviews section and find over 200 practical buyer's guides, taste tests of gin, vodka and more.

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Best rosé at a glance

  • Best southern French rosé: Waitrose Provence Rosé, £8.99
  • Best party wine: La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2020, £7.50
  • Best rioja rosé: Ramón Bilbao Rioja Rosado 2021, £8
  • Best Greek rosé: Gaia Agiorgitiko 4-6h 2020, £14.19
  • Best pinot noir rosé: Calvet Sancerre 2020, £16.49
  • Best English rosé: Hush Heath Estate Botham & Balfour 2020, £15
  • Best dark rosé: Paso-Primero Somontano Rosado 2021, £9.95
  • Best island rosé: The Society's Corsican Rosé 2021, £10.50
  • Best exotic rosé: Domaine des Tourelles Rosé 2021, £13.49
  • Best rosé for showing-off: Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé 2021, £18.95
  • Best with salad niçoise: Rosé de Léoube 2020, £21.50
  • Best with shellfish: Château La Canorgue Luberon Rosé 2021, £21.50

Best rosé to buy in 2022

Waitrose Provence Rosé

Best southern French rosé

A bottle of Waitrose Provence Rosé

Star rating: 3/5

I tried a huge number of Provence rosés for this test and this one was easily the best of the under-£10 ones and gave the big names a run for its money. While some southern French rosés are frankly just a bit dull, this one was mouth-watering in its intensity. If you don’t care about brand names, then look no further.

Available from:

Waitrose Provence Rosé (£8.99)

La Vieille Ferme Rosé 2020

Best party wine

A bottle of La Vieille Ferme Rosé

Star rating: 3/5
This is made by one of the great wine making families of France, the Perrins, who make some superb wine in Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This is their budget range and it’s always worth buying. Flavours of apricots, pink grapefruit and notes of thyme and rosemary.

Available from:
Waitrose (£7.50)

Ramón Bilbao Rioja Rosado 2021

Best Rioja rosé

A bottle of Ramón Bilbao Rioja Rosado

Star rating: 3/5
Rioja in Spain is a great hunting ground for quality rosé. It used to be made in a darker style but in recent years the colour has shifted in line with Provence. This is so pale it’s almost colourless. Happily it’s not short of flavour with its peppery, saline flavours and red fruit.

Available from:
Tesco (£8)
Vivino (£12.58)

Gaia Agiorgitiko 4-6h 2020

Best Greek rosé

A close up of a bottle of Gaia Agiorgitiko 4-6h 2020

Star rating: 4/5

This is made from the classic Greek grape variety, Agiorgitiko. This is a little darker than most modern rosés, and you can really smell that with blackcurrants on the nose. It's a similar story on the palate – some nice heft here, with aromatic orange peel, blackcurrants and a little tannin. Try it with grilled octopus.

Available from:
Strictly Wine (£12.99)
Wine Man (£14.19)

Calvet Sancerre 2020

Best pinot noir rosé

A bottle of Calvet Sancerre 2020

Star rating: 4/5
The region of Sancerre is famous for its white wines made with sauvignon blanc but it also makes light reds and rosés from pinot noir. It’s full-bodied for a rosé with a refreshing acidity, lots of cranberry fruit and a floral perfumed finish. This would be delicious with seared tuna.

Available from:
Waitrose (£16.49)

Hush Heath Estate Botham & Balfour 2020

Best English rosé

A bottle of Hush Heath Estate Botham & Balfour 2020

Star rating: 4/5
This is made by Hush Heath in Kent for former England cricketer Ian Botham’s range of wines and very good it is too. It’s made from a cocktail of grapes including pinot noir which gives it its colour. It tastes herbal with stone fruit and a delightful creamy texture. I’d find this very hard to resist on a hot summer’s day.

Available from:
The English Wine Collection (£15)

Paso-Primero Somontano Rosado 2021

Best dark rosé

A bottle of Paso-Primero Somontano Rosado 2021

Star rating: 4/5
You’ve got to admire this Spanish producer for swimming so bravely against the tide. The colour is intense: I’ve had red wines paler than this! There's some big fruit here such as blueberries, oranges, raspberries. It’s massively juicy with just a little tannin. Despite it’s heft, the alcohol isn’t over the top at 13.5% ABV, making this a great BBQ wine.

Available from:
Tanners Wine Merchants (£9.95)

The Society's Corsican Rosé 2021

Best island rosé

A bottle of The Society's Corsican Rosé 2021

Star rating: 4/5
The island of Corsica might be part of France but the grapes planted owe more to Italy, so this tastes markedly different to a southern French rosé. It’s intensely citrus-forward on the palate with lemon, oranges, rosemary and a lingering creaminess. Lots of character here for the money.

Available from:
The Wine Society (£10.50)

Domaine des Tourelles Rosé 2021

Best exotic rosé

  • Available from Flagship Wine, £13.49
A bottle of Domaine des Tourelles Rosé 2021

Star rating: 4/5
From one of my favourite producers, Lebanon’s Domaine des Tourelles, I buy this every year and it’s always a knock-out. This majors on the spice with North African flavours like cinnamon, orange peel and apricot. There’s a woody aromatic quality to it, though it isn’t aged in oak. You’ve never had a rosé like this before.

Available from:
Flagship Wine (£13.49)

Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé 2021

Best rosé for showing off

A bottle of Château Miraval Côtes de Provence Rosé 2021

Star rating: 5/5
This is the estate that used to be owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and though they aren’t involved any more, it’s still the most glamorous rosé on the market. Most people will probably buy for the image but the wine is among the best you’ll find. It’s surprisingly rich with very ripe strawberries, orange peel and a nutty finish.

Available from:
Berry Bros & Rudd (£18.95)

Mirabeau Pure Côtes de Provence 2021

Best to drink by the pool

A bottle of Mirabeau Pure Côtes de Provence 2021

Star rating: 4/5
From one of the biggest names in the Provence rosé world, this is a textbook example of style. There’s stone fruit on the nose and then an explosion of peachy notes on the palate with a long creamy finish. Utterly irresistible, especially if you’re lucky enough to be by the pool.

Available from:
Majestic Wines (£17.49)
Tesco (£15.50)

Rosé de Léoube 2020

Best with salad niçoise

A bottle of Rosé de Léoube 2020

Star rating: 4/5
Leoube was founded by an English couple in Provence. It’s made in an organic vineyard from a blend of the classic rosé grapes Grenache and Cinsault with some Syrah and Mourvèdre too. It’s packed with stone fruit, citrus and strawberries, with a nice weight in the mouth. Perfect with fresh Mediterranean cuisine.

Available from:
Daylesford (£20)
Vivino (£21.50)

Château La Canorgue Luberon Rosé 2021

Best with shellfish

A close up of a bottle of Château La Canorgue Luberon Rosé 2021

Star rating: 5/5
Pale in colour and only 12.5% ABV, but this wine from the south of France packs a flavour punch with peaches, cherries, strawberries, orange peel, and rosemary. All the characteristics of a Provence rosé but with everything dialled up fuller and richer. Not cheap but it’s worth every penny.

Available from:

Vivino (£21.50)

Previously tested

Porcupine Ridge 2017

A bottle of 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 (£8.79)

Esprit de Buganay 2016

A bottle of Esprit de Buganay rose

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 (£13.49)

MiP 2017

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 Vinissimus (£11.04)

Château de Berne 2016

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 (£16.99)

Whispering Angel Château d’Esclans 2017

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 Roberson Wine (£19.95)

Rosé: what is it and why is it so popular?

A plate of food with a glass of rose alongside

How old should rosé be?

Rosé should be enjoyed relatively young, although 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.

Rosé recipes...

Frozen raspberry sangria
Strawberries in rosé wine
Mulled rosé wine

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This review was last updated in May 2022. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at goodfoodwebsite@immediate.co.uk.

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