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The question

My husband says pale rosés are better than dark ones. True?

The answer

No, that’s fake news (to borrow someone else’s catchphrase). It’s time to put the pale-supremacy propaganda to rest.

It has become fashion in these pink-soaked wine times for producers to dial back colour saturation in their rosés, as I wrote about in a column on millennial pink. The implication is that such wines are more likely to taste like the delicate and often elegantly dry pink wines of Provence in southern France, which many connoisseurs consider the ultimate rosé style. Sometimes that comparison will have merit, but often not. In truth, there’s no strong correlation between (pale) colour and quality.

A rosé’s tint is the product of several variables. Two happen to be particularly important: grape variety and soak time. Depending on the varieties used (all pink wines ultimately get colour from pigment in red skins), it could turn out super light in colour, especially when such grapes as pinot noir, grenache and gamay dominate the mix, or more deeply saturated, as in the case of mourvèdre, cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and none of that impinges on quality. Soak time refers to how long the juice is kept in contact with skins. Longer means darker, which, again, provides no reliable indication of quality.

I know a top sommelier in France who is fed up with the current anemic-pink trend because he feels it’s built on a lie. Colour is strongly associated with flavour intensity, he says, and darker rosés tend to deliver more flavour (whether you like the flavour or not). It’s one reason he’s a huge fan of Tavel, the dark-coloured rosé that takes its name from an appellation in the southern Rhône Valley. Most connoisseurs would agree that deep-pink Tavels are the most “serious” and cellar-worthy rosés on the planet.

In food circles, it’s said that we eat with our eyes. That’s true of drinking, too. If your husband gets his jollies from barely stained rosés that seem “sophisticated,” all power to him. But if you want to prove him wrong, get him a bottle of Tavel for the holidays.

Beppi Crosariol will once again be participating as The Globe’s wine expert on the July 2019 Globe and Mail Seine River Cruise. For details on how to reserve your cabin on this voyage down the Seine from Paris to Normandy visit

E-mail your wine and spirits questions to Beppi Crosariol. Look for answers to select questions to appear in the Wine & Spirits newsletter and on The Globe and Mail website.

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