Searching for an Italian Rosé on the shelves you will have to look out for the title Rosato. But given the extra syllables, we’ll stick with the classic saying Rosé all day. Though France may be famous for these delightfully pink wines, Italian Wine Lovers won’t have to miss out. Many wine regions of Italy produce their own Rosato, based on their signature red varieties. Italian Rosato comes in many different shades and sweetness, there is a lot to navigate, but before picking out your favorites, it might help to know a little more about Rosé.
Rosé, rather than being specific wine, is just a style (as red or white). Saying “I love Rosé” covers hundreds of wines that are nothing alike. Italian Rosato, may at times be similar to a French Rosé or a Spanish Rosado, all depending on the grapes used.
Looking for more on Italian wine? Check out 5 Italian Wines for Quarantine.
So how is Rosato made?
All Rosato wines are made with different grapes different methods and different blends. Is one way “the best” no, not really. It depends on your style, and your taste.
There are a few different ways you can make Rosato but the most common is by taking away the grapes earlier so they have less skin contact. Or they may not even see skin contact at all, taking the juice away immediately. In winemaking talk, these methods are referred to as “Limited Skin Maceration “and Direct Pressing.
Other ways are salasso, known in French as saignée, a French method to “bleed the tank” letting a little juice off at a time. This method is used to make red wines as well, at first it began as a process to concentrate red wines. First wine is vinified as a standard red wine, then early in the process, the winemaker will “bleed” or take off a little of the juice. This extra juice is vinified as a Rosato, while the rest remains as a red. If done with careful attention, these Salasso style Rosati can be much richer in style and structure.
The last method is blending, just mixing red and white wine to create a pink Rosé. However, this method is banned in the top tier of European wines, (PDO in Europe, DOC/DOCG in Italy) except for Champagne.
What Italian grape varieties make Rosato?
Depends where you are grabbing your Rose from, usually the wine region chooses its signature red grape. In Italy, where pink tinted wine is Rosato, rather than Rosé, NegroAmaro and Bombino Nero are the key varieties in Puglia’s famous wines. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo also makes a famous “Cerasuolo” wine, meaning cherry colored. In the north Pinot Nero, Nebbiolo, Corvina and other regional favorites make our Rosati.
Essentially, you can’t go wrong, any red grape can make a Rosato.
Italian Rosato around the Boot
Starting in the north of Italy, an Italian Rosato that has gained attention around the world if Veneto’s Chiaretto. Chiaretto refers to the pale pink color of the wine. It was first produced in 1896 and is one of Italy’s oldest Rosati. You will most likely hear of Bardolino Chiaretto, which refers to an area around Verona (the same area famous for Valpolicella and Amarone.)
Much like the bold reds of the area, Chiaretto uses Corvina, blended with Rondinella or Molinara. Historically the Rosato was produced using the salasso method, but this received criticism as many thought the producers didn’t put enough quality into the winemaking. As of 2014, the local Consorzio (an organization working to protect and promote certain winemaking traditions and regions) encouraged more focus on Chiaretto production. Urging producers to use Direct Press or minimal Skin Maceration methods. You can now find producers using all three methods within the region.
Discover the Bardolino Region with a hike through the hills and a tasting of local wines!
Moving down to Tuscany, Italy’s crowd-pleasing wine region. Rosato production is a fairly new tradition, that came into play to please consumers. While there is not a traditional style here, you will find many Rosati based on Sangiovese, Tuscany’s key red grape.
Sangiovese can be quite tannic at times, making the Rosati a bit fuller. Depending on the personal technique of the winemaker you will find a range of Rosati from sweeter to rich and dry rosato. Test a few out to find what you like the most.
One long-standing traditional Rosato of Tuscany is something known as “Vin Ruspo” coming from the Carmignano Appellation. Ruspo comes from the word “Ruspare” which meant to draw off, it referred to the wine farmers would take for themselves before giving to landowners. In fact, it is made through the salasso method, taking wine from the Barco Reale di Carmignano DOC production. This wine is a blend of Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.
Add a little wine tasting in Carmignano to your next trip to Tuscany!
You might think Rosé season= beach and summer, but Abruzzo is hear to change your mind. Though Abruzzo does have a beautiful coastline along the Adriatic, they are one of Italy’s most mountainous regions and are often synonymous with rustic tradition. Yet Abruzzo produces one of Italy’s most famous Rosati: Cerasuolo Abruzzo.
The name of this Italian Rosato: Cerasuolo, comes from the word cerasa, meaning cherry, referring to its cherry pink color.
The wine is made from Abruzzo’s claim to fame: Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, but has a much quicker production. In fact, this wine was created to be drunk immediately, while families waited for the Montepulciano to finish its vinification. Typically, the wine is made through a short maceration of just a few hours, before the wine is separated from the grapes and vinified.
Enjoy a wine tasting in Abruzzo and taste the three great regional wines: Montepulciano, Cerasuolo and Trebbiano.
The real place to look for the best of Italian Rosato. Puglia has been producing beautiful Rosati for many years, though commercially they only began selling it in the 1940’s. This region has become THE Rosato region, producing both varietal and blended Rosati of Negroamaro, Bombino Nero, Malvasia Nera, and at times Primitivo.
Particular regions to look out for are the Castel del Monte Bombino Nero wine, and the Salice Salentino, based on Negroamaro.
Explore all the wines of Puglia with a Wine Tasting & Aperitivo!
Sicily is a vibrant wine region that always likes to try something new, they produce excellent reds, whites, fortified, sweet and Rosati wines. Rosato has particularly found a place in the Etna appellation where producers are using the native Nerello Mascalese to create structured, elegant Rosati. Sicilian producers also make rosato from Nero d’Avola and Syrah (the international favorite on the island).
A few favorites.
Everyone has their own tastes, here are just a few Italian Rosato styles I have been enjoying recently.
Francesco Cirelli’s Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: a beautiful color close to a light red, rather than a pink Made with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, left for some long skin contact then spent some time in Amphora. Has really nice cranberry notes.
Talamonti Rose Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo: the same wine by appellation, Talamonti’s take on Cerasuolo is completely different from Cirelli’s, offering a lighter yet still elegant Rosato.
Leone de Castris Anniversario Five Roses: a blend of NegroAmaro and Malvasia Nera. This was Italy’s FIRST commercially sold Rosato! It has a very candy (think cherry jolly rancher) taste with cherry and strawberry notes. A fun wine for those who love wines a tad sweet.
Rivers Pungirosa Castel del Monte: Made with Bombino Nero it has a very clear and light color. A middle ground between the two other wines, for those looking for a tad sweet, but without feeling the sweet aftereffects. Cherry and Strawberry come up a lot in this wine as well.