Is Rosé Wine Sweet?

Refreshing and elegant, a glass of rosé wine is perfect for almost any occasion. Despite gaining a lot of popularity over the past decade, for its distinct pretty pink hue and varied flavour, many still don’t know much about rosé and its types. 

The lack of information on this blush-coloured wine has led to some misconceptions such that it’s always too sweet (fact check: some rosé wines are dry, too), it’s a “ladies’ drink” (whatever that means), or it’s just a recent internet trend (its dates back to 1550 B.C. – 300 B.C.). 

In this article, we have provided a comprehensive guide to rosé wine, its origins, flavour profile, food pairings and more. Read on to find which rosé is suited to your taste preferences. 

Rosé Wine

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Is Rosé Wine Dry or Sweet?

The answer to this question depends on the type of grape and production methods used in its making. Like red and white wines, rosé does not have a singular flavour profile. Rosés are versatile; they can be deliciously sweet to wonderfully crisp and dry (not sweet). The flavour of a bottle of rosé largely depends on the type of grape from which it is made. 

Apart from grape type, the terroir (climatic conditions, soil type, etc) and production methods employed influence the flavour. Old World (Europe) rosé wines tend to be dry whereas New World (not Europe) wines are on the sweeter, fruitier side. 

To make your life easier, here is a useful chart which compares and ranks different types of rosé wines based on their sweetness:

Dry TavelGrenacheSyrahCabernet SauvignonTempranilloPinot NoirProvence Rosé
Off Dry SangioveseCabernet D’AnjouDolcetto
SweetWhite MerlotWhite ZinfandelMontepulcianoSparkling Rosé
Very SweetPink MoscatoLow Alcohol Rosé

Is Colour a Good Indicator of Sweetness?

It is easy to incorrectly assume that the darker the rosé, the drier it is. However, a magenta-coloured rose wine can be sweet (or dry), just as a pale blush-coloured rose wine could be dry (or sweet). 

Although, the colour of a rosé does clue you in about the wine’s flavour profile. Bright pink rosés usually have notes of ripe fruit like strawberries and watermelon. Light pink rosés typically have citrus, melon and floral notes. 


What is Rosé Wine?

As the name suggests, rose wine is a pink wine made from red wine grape varieties. Unlike red wines, the maceration process is shorter in making rose wine varieties. Maceration is the process of soaking grape skins in grape juice to extract colour. This process is what gives red and rose wines their colour. For rose wines, the skins are steeped for only a short period of time to extract just a hint of colour. 

Despite popping up everywhere on social media from being served at baby showers to black tie events, rose wine is not a modern discovery. It is unclear when rose was invented, however, it known that the earliest red wines were closer to rose wines than modern red wines. 

Ancient Greeks and Romans refrained from the harder pressing of grapes and soaking the skins for longer as they preferred the light, fruity notes of the rosé more than darker, heartier wines. 

How is Rosé Wine Made?

As discussed earlier, rose wine is incredibly versatile, in that, its flavour is determined by the the preparation methods and grape varieties. Here are some of the methods employed in the production of rose wines:

1. Maceration Method

Maceration method or limited skin maceration is the process where red grapes are destemmed, crushed, and left to sit in their own skins for anywhere from 2 hours to 2 days to let the colour infuse. The skins are then removed from the wine. 

2. Vin Gris Method

Also known as direct press method, vin gris in French means “gray wine”. This method is when grapes are softly pressed until the free-run must (juice) is extracted. In this process, the goal is to produce a delicate, pale, almost white wine. 

3. Saignée Method

Saignée (pronounced sohn-yay) literally translates to “bleeding” is the process when the winemaker crushes the red grapes, lets them sit for a few hours or days, and then drains or “bleeds off” a portion of the juice, which is now pink, into a larger tank to let it ferment into a rose wine. The rest of the juice in the main tank is left to ferment with the skins to produce a regular red wine. 

4. Blending Red and White Wines

Though this method is relatively uncommon in rose winemaking production, winemakers sometimes use a blend of red and white wines to produce rose wine. This is perhaps the easiest of all methods and you can try making it in your own kitchen! However, remember to use the right amount of the right wines. 

rose wine

Image by Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

Rosé Wine Types

Now that you know that there is a rose wine can be both sweet and dry, let’s discuss some of its types to find the perfect rosé for you. Here are some of the most popular rosé wines in the market:

Sweet Rosé Wines 

1. Pink Moscato: The sweetest of all rosés, Pink Moscato is technically a sweet pink dessert wine. It is made as a white wine from the Moscato or Muscat grape. The winemaker stops the fermentation process early so that the wine will retain sugar from the unfermented grape juice. Then, a dash of red wine (typically Merlot) is added to the white wine to turn it into a lovely Pink Moscato. 

Pink Moscato wines have notes of stone fruits like peach, apricot, and cherry. They also have hints of berry. This wine is best enjoyed with fruit, light desserts and various seafood dishes. However, avoid pairing it with heavy cream sauces. 

2. White Zinfandel: Contrary to its name, White Zinfandel is actually a rosé which was created by accident in the 1970s. It has notes of citrus, melon and fruity notes, and pairs well with summer salads, mild creamy cheeses, pasta, and even spicy foods.


Semi-Sweet or Off-Dry Rosé Wines 

1. Sangiovese: Usually labelled as “Rosato” which is Italian for “pink”, this Italian rosé is perfect for you if you like your wine not-too-sweet but allso not completely dry. It has a lovely flavour profile with notes ranging from fruity (cherry, strawberry and raspberry) to warm spices (clove, cumin, and allspice). This wine is bold and pairs well with rich, spicy curries. 

2. Rosé Champagne: This wine is made in the Champagne region of France, where white and red wines are blended together to make this sparkling rosé. Rosé Champagne is bolder than regular champagne, with the sweet and creamy flavours of raspberry and rose. 

These wines are perfect for celebratory occasions, and can be paired with a wide variety of sweet and spicy foods. 

Dry Rosé Wines 

1. Grenache: Grenache Rosés, often used interchangeably with Provence Rosés, are among the driest rose wines in the world. They have a zesty, acidic quality, fruity notes of grapefruit, berries, watermelon, and “green” flavours of cucumber, and herbs as well. They are best when paired with spicy, aromatic foods. 

2. Tavel: One of the driest rose wines in the market, Tavel rosé is made from Grenache grapes. These wines are famous for their bold, spicy and tannin-heavy flavour with rich, nutty notes. Pair them with heavy foods like grilled meats and spicy salads. 

How to Serve Rosé Wines?

It is important to serve rose wines at a specific temperature as the method of serving can drastically change the flavour of the wine. According to sommeliers, rosé should be served chilled to highlight its crispness and fruitiness. However, bear in mind that if you over-chill your wine, it would get too cold and lose its flavour. 

The perfect temperature is somewhere between 40-50° F. Pour it into a glass and let it sit for a few minutes to get the most out of its flavour. 


As you know now, rosé wines are not singular in taste and cannot be categorized into one flavour profile. Rosés can range from being honey sweet to bone dry. It all depends on your individual taste preferences to choose the best bottle of rosé. Rest assured that everyone can find a perfect match in a bottle of rose wine. Santé!

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