Tickle your partner pink with a bottle of rosé on Valentine’s Day.

With romance in the air, many of us will be thinking about pouring something pink on Valentine's Day. Here are some things you may not know about rosé wine, and my pick of the bunch.

Because winemaking techniques maximising the extraction of colour from grapes are a fairly modern phenomenon and the winemakers of antiquity often pressed their fruit soon after harvest, many of the first "red" wines would technically have been rosés.

It's best drunk young. Rosé is not a style that's generally made to age, and can quickly lose the freshness that is an intrinsic part of its appeal. As a rule of thumb, drink rosés within a couple of years of their vintage.

They love it in France. Though the French have been drinking less wine overall, rosé consumption there has almost tripled over the past two decades and now accounts for 30 per cent of the country's total wine consumption.

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It's a hit across the world. Worldwide consumption has grown by 15 per cent over the past decade and represents about 9 per cent of total wine consumption.

Some rosés are a by-product. One of the ways to make rosé is using the saignee method, when a portion of juice is run off early from crushed black grapes. This is often done to concentrate red wine, with the lightly coloured run-off juice fermented to make a rosé.

Though this can make perfectly pleasant wines and is a method widely used in New Zealand, it's scoffed at by some who feel it's not the way to make top-quality examples.

The more respected method is making a rosé from grapes expressly picked to make the style.

Brangelina make rosé. In 2012 Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bought Chateau Miraval and its vineyards in Provence and now make a rosé. Their first vintage made the prestigious Wine Spectator Top 100 wines list.

It has its own research centre. There's a Centre de Recherche et d'Experimentation sur le vin Rosé in France's important rose-producing region of Provence.

It's not all sweet. Though some rosés of yore were sickly sweet, many modern ones are much drier; many French examples in particular are made in a dry style.

Most rosé is bottled in clear glass. Clear glass is used to reveal the pretty hues. However, you need to make sure they're not stored in direct sun.

It has many different names. In Spain it is rosado for the lightest wines and clarete for the darker-tinged; in Italy it's rosato, while in the US it's also known as blush.

Mateus is alive and well. The retro favourite is still in production - in fact its parent company, Sogrape, also owns Marlborough's Framingham wines. However, its style has been tweaked to make it drier and spritzier to suit current tastes.


PINK BLUSH
Spencer Hill Nelson Blanc de Pinot Noir 2014 $24
Spencer Hill has gone out to make a serious rosé, sourcing grapes from its prime pinot noir vineyard and using the quality skin contact method. The resulting wine is a vivid, deep pink that is full bodied with ripe red berry and cherry fruit, a mineral note and attractively fresh finish. A rosé with more complexity than most. Available from selected wine stores.

Two Degrees Central Otago Rose 2014 $25
Another rosé made in its own right, this is deep pink with aromatic notes of florals and thyme, ripe berry fruit, a touch of tannic grip and a zingy, citrusy finish. Find at Cambridge Fine Wines, Primo Vino, Point Wines, First Glass and Frog in a Barrel.

Chateau Mourgues du Gres Costieres de Nimes "Galets Rosé" 2013 $22
Provence is not the only region in France that makes great rosé. There are also fine examples from the likes of the Loire, Languedoc and Rhone, from which this syrah-based example hails. In a rosé with an onion-skin hue, notes of herb and spice infuse its bright raspberry and cherry fruit supported by an appealing savoury undercurrent. Available from Caro's, First Glass, Point Wines, Scenic Cellars and Wine Circle.


- VIVA