Over the past five years, sales of rosé wines in the UK have grown exponentially. So much so, in fact, that most major retailers no longer relegate pink wine to a seasonal summer listing but stock it year-round.
This, in turn, is made easier by the fact that rosés , which depend on freshness and youth for much of their appeal , can now be shipped in from the southern hemisphere just as their northern hemisphere counterparts are starting to show their age. Northern hemisphere wines tend to arrive in the UK between April and May, while those from the south hit the shelves around September or October.
Even though rosé is now drunk throughout the year, summer is still peak pink season, and the USA and France still top the rosé charts. California's blush versions - by far the top sellers in the UK - are popular with consumers who like a fair bit of residual sugar in their wines, while France offers a range of styles from the fruity, medium-dry Rosé d'Anjou to the crisp, dry pinks of southern France.
But as consumers become increasingly clued up about rosé's attractions, savvy retailers are starting to look further afield than the usual suspects in order to bring their customers the widest possible choice. And, as they're discovering, the more you look, the more you realise that there's a whole wide world of rosé out there to be enjoyed.
As you might expect, given the Argentinians' predilection for Malbec, most of the country's rosés are based on that grape. Where a blend is involved, Malbec's partner tends to be Syrah and you can also find varietal Syrah rosés. The great majority of the wines come from Mendoza, Malbec's Argentinian homeland. But be warned, rosé is not high on Argentina's production agenda, so don't expect to find too much choice on the market.
Santa Ana Malbec Rosé,
(£5.50, Enotria Winecellars
0208 961 4411)
Santa Julia Syrah Rosé,
(£4.99, Thierry's 01794 507100)
Finca Flichman Malbec Rosé, Mendoza 2006
Austria hardly registers on most retailers' wine lists, and when it does the wines tend to be white - so it comes as a bit of a shock to discover that the country can be a source of good rosé. True, not much of the stuff makes it to the UK - and a couple of those that do are almost offensively sweet - but there are notable exceptions, and these tend to have plenty of crisp acidity to balance the sugar levels.
Rosé vom Zweigelt 2006
(£9.99, Richards Walford,
Given their reputation for being on the ball when it comes to making the most of a marketing opportunity, Australians have been pretty slow to take advantage of the UK's growing taste for rosé. The past year, however, has seen an increasing number of Aussie pinks hitting our shelves. There is no definitive style - you'll find a variety of sugar levels, from medium to bone-dry, and all kinds of grapes are used. However, it's true to say that Southern Australian pinks are often based on Grenache or Shiraz while those from Victoria are usually made from Pinot Noir, but there's also a lot of Bordeaux grapes being used and an increasing interest in Italian varietals has seen a number of Sangiovese rosés come on to the market too.
Brookland Valley Verse 1 Rosé, Margaret River 2006
Linda Domas, Shotbull Rosé, Southern Fleurieu 2006
(£8.49, Novum Wines
0207 820 6720)
Yering Station Pinot Noir Rosé Extra Dry, Yarra Valley 2006 (£9.99, Enotria Winecellars
0208 961 4411)
Pikes Luccio Sangiovese Rosé, Clare Valley 2006
(£7.99, Seckford Agencies
Many Chilean winemakers still see rosé as being a bit of a poor relation to red . Having said that, the more switched-on producers have realised there's a growing market and are responding accordingly. Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot-based rosés from the Central Valley are the key offering, although you'll also find Pinot Noir versions from cooler-climate regions. Although Chilean rosés aren't as sweet as a Californian blush pink, some of them do have a fair bit of residual sugar.
Errazuriz Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Central Valley 2006
(£6.99, www.hatchmansfield.co.uk)l Secano Estate Pinot Noir, L eyda Valley 2006
(£6.99, Marks & Spencer)
OK , technically, Corsica is in France, so shouldn't be included in this round-up of pinks from further afield, but the wines from this Mediterranean island hardly register on most people's radars. Pale pink Corsican rosés, which are made from indigenous grapes such as Niellucio and Sciacarello, tend to be very dry in style and often have a herbaceous note that some attribute to the influence of the garrigue that surrounds the vineyards.
Corse Calvi Clos Culombu Rosé, 2006 (£9.50, The Wine Society 01438 741177)
The idea of English rosé might seem odd, but as full-bodied reds hardly thrive in our climate, delicate pinks make a lot of sense. You won't find many around but they're worth tracking down for their crisp, clean fruit.
Three Choirs Premium Selection Rosé, English Regional Wine (£5.25, The Wine Society
Up until now, the choice of German rosés in the UK was limited to a couple of big brands - so not much choice at all, really. At the end of this month, however, Wines of Germany's Riesling and Co tasting will unveil a number of the country's rosé wines, the best of which are usually made from Pinot Noir.
Greece is one of those countries whose wines get wine lovers very excited but, sadly, leave most UK consumers cold. Could it have something to do with those unpronounceable grape varieties? These are great food wines - a match for autumn stews as well as summer picnics :get rid of your prejudices and leap at any opportunity to taste the se splendid, full, fruity rosés.
Kir-Yianni Akakies Rosé 2006 (£6.99, Vickbar Wines 0207 490 1000)
Ktima Kosta Lazaridi Amethystos, Rosé 2005 (£8.29, Oddbins)
Although mainstream Hungarian wines were rarely worth getting excited about in the past, they delivered reasonable quality at a very low price. Joining the EU, however, seems to have pushed prices up a notch or two - and, while the wines do what they say on the tin, excitement levels are still fairly low. Still, if you're looking for sub-£5 rosés based on popular varietals, you could do far, far worse than look east for your fix .
Pinot Grigio Rosé, Hungary 2006 (£4.29, Marks & Spencer)
Nagyrede Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 2006 (£4.29, Waitrose)
As you might expect from a country that has well over 2,000 indigenous grape varieties - and a growing taste, in some regions at least, for international ones - Italian rosés come in a huge range of styles and colours. Up in the north you're likely to find pale-pink rosés made from Pinot Grigio, while the south makes deep-hued rosés from grapes such as Aglianico. In between, you'll find pinks made from native grapes such as Lagrein, Rondinella and Sangiovese (either alone or blended), as well as those made - at least partly - from blends that feature international varietals like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
Ca' Dei Frati, Riviera del Garda Bresciano 2006
(£10.49, Liberty 0207 720 5350)
Podere la Prendina, Rondinella Pinot Grigio, Alto Mincia 2006 (£6.99, Marks & Spencer)
Antinori Tenuta Guada al Tasso, Scalabrone Rosato Bolgheri 2006 (£9.25, www.winedirect.co.uk)l Mezzacorona Castel Firmian, Lagrein Rosato, Trentino 2006 (£5.99, Berkmann Wine Cellars
0207 609 4711)
You might find the idea of a Middle Eastern country that makes great wine slightly odd, given the Koran's ban on the consumption of alcohol, but Lebanon has never really conformed to predictable stereotypes. Rosés here tend to be based on Rhône varietals, and are hearty, food-friendly wines.
Massaya Classic Rosé 2006 (£7.50, The Wine Society 01438 741177, Thorman Hunt 0207 735 6511)
Expect all New Zealand rosés to be based on Pinot Noir
You're in for a surprise . Many pinks available in the UK are based on Bordeaux varieties - not just Cabernet and Merlot, you'll also find a fair few with Malbec in the blend too. Although there's plenty of fruit in these wines, they tend to err on the dry side.
Esk Valley Black Label Merlot Malbec (£8.49, firstname.lastname@example.org)
Stoneleigh Pinot Noir
(£6.99, Pernod Ricard UK
0208 538 4484)
There's far more to Portuguese pink than Britain's former favourite, Mateus Rosé. Many of the best can be made exclusively from blends of grapes traditionally used to make port or sometimes incorporate international varietals like Shiraz.
Tagus Creek Rosé, Portugal (£3.74, Waitrose)
Quinta do Covela, Escolha Rosé, Minho (£9.75, Corney & Barrow)
Typically Cabernet Sauvignon , Merlot , Shiraz and Cinsault , many come with a good dollop of Pinotage.
Cloof Rosé, Darling, 2006 (£5.99, www.cloof.co.za)l Slowine Pinot Noir Rosé 2006 (£5.99, Seckford Agencies
Brampton Rosé 2006 (£5.99, Seckford Agencies 01206 231188)
Spain - in particular Navarra - has long been a source of stonking rosé . These days, other regions are playing catch-up, and you'll find great examples from as far afield as Montsant, Campo de Borja, Somontano and Valencia. Even Rioja is in on the act. Most Spanish pinks are based on Garnacha and Tempranillo, but you'll also find ones made from other indigenous grapes and international varietals.
Capçanes Rosat, Montsant 2006 (£5.49, Oddbins)
Bodegas y Vinedos Nekeas
(£6.25, www.winedirect.co.uk)l Gran Feudo Rosado
Julian Chivite, Navarra