With Spring on the horizon, many of us are considering incorporating more chilled Rosé wine into our outdoor dining plans. Pink and sweet, Rosé has a reputation for being a lighter choice in warmer weather, but is it really a healthy option?
When looking for the "healthiest" Rosé, biodynamic and organic varieties are safe bets. However, "Most small production wineries are often not set up for organic certification but use a very strict process to ensure high-quality wine without added chemicals," cautioned sommelier Rachel Binder, who has curated the natural wine list at Plant Food and Wine.
As any Rosé fan knows, sugar content tends to be a bit higher than in other wines. A healthier Rosé option would, in turn, be one with a lower sugar content. Because sugar in wine is linked directly to the ripeness of the grapes upon production, the riper the grapes, the higher the sugar. Sunlight is vital in ripening grapes, so grapes growing in warmer/sunnier climates will produce wines with higher residual sugar contents. "Red wine is packed with heart-healthy antioxidants from age-worthy tannins to dark color pigments," said Leslie Sbrocco, author of Wine For Women and a television host.
The beauty of Rosé is that it's made from red grapes, so it shares many of those healthy qualities. "You should opt for wines low in both alcohol and residual sugar. Look for those on the dry side of the scale instead of sweeter 'blush' styles. Bottles from France's Cotes de Provence such as Fleurs de Prairie ($18) specialize in elegant, dry Rosé styles," Sbrocco said.
Brian Smith, COO at Winc, suggested that when picking out a bottle of Rosé, you should look for one that is lighter in color and lower in alcohol. "Typically, high-quality Rosé that hasn't been manipulated is lighter in color, while mass-produced Rosé can be deeper in color. Winemakers should focus on using high-quality, raw materials and managing the process very closely," Smith said. Organic farming can also be a factor.
Mass-produced wine often requires added chemicals in the final step of the wine-making process, which can contribute to hangovers. "If you're concerned about your health and the environment, it's great to support small, local vineyards," Binder said. You can get knock-your-socks-off wine, while also supporting sustainable farming within your own community.
At your next get-together, showing up with any of these Rosés — that are not only good for you but also good for the environment — will definitely win over everyone in attendance.
2017 Backsberg Pinotage Rosé ($13): This South African Rosé is from a producer that values sustainable farming. Winemaking is done with as little intervention as possible. It is the only winery in South Africa and one of three in the world that is carbon neutral. This is a wine that is not only healthy in the glass, but it's also healthy for the environment! From the Paarl region, the Rosé has a freshness to it, with bright strawberry and tropical fruit flavors.
Josh Cellars Rose ($13): This wine is grown in warm, sunny California and has a residual sugar of about five grams per liter.
Raimat Rosada Rosé ($12): The Raimat family has been producing wines sustainably for 100 years, which means their wines are made minimizing the use of agrochemicals and generation of waste. Raimat Rosada Rosé is definitely healthier for the environment and the community touched by its production.
Fleurs de Prairie Rose ($18): From Provence in France, this is made from grapes from Provencal vineyards that dot the coastal wind-swept hillsides of the region. The Mediterranean influence of sun mixed with wind, mild water stress, and ocean influence allows for a cooler growing climate, producing a Rosé.