From pale Provence fizz to a full-bodied Pinot Noir, it’s all about the pink stuff this summer.
In a country where you can’t count on the weather to mark the seasons, we have to invent our own signals for the passage of spring to summer. Along with blinding white legs on the tube, an onslaught of rainy outdoor festivals and the supermarket pushing scrawny “BBQ-ready” chicken legs on you at any opportunity, that first bottle of rosé is what really marks the beginning of the British Summer. All it takes is one bold trendsetter to suggest a ‘cheeky rosé’ rather than your standard house white, and before you know it, we’re complaining about the lack of air-con on the tube and walking shirtless around Clapham. Summer has begun!
At this point, despite being unashamed of our basic red and white knowledge, we all suddenly remember the trauma of a sugary Zinfandel and pretend to know our way around a rosé list by insisting on a ‘pale, dry one – preferably Provence’ with a smug nod to the imaginary sommelier in the corner. While this method works 90% of the time when faced with a grim corner-shop selection and trying to avoid the rosé equivalent of Ribena, the colour of rosé actually has nothing to do with the sugar content.
According to the experts at Franco’s, whether it’s a super pale wine or a dark raspberry, the richness of the rosé colour is based on how long the grape skins are in contact with the juice during the production process. Sugar is added later, and many confuse sweetness with dark rosé as they tend to have much bolder flavours and heavier fruit notes, compared to the very light, dry, pale wines. These lighter rosés can occasionally taste of very little, hence why they are the go-to crowd pleaser when you’re just looking to drink something refreshing, boozy and mildly tasty.
So armed with this basic rosé knowledge, it’s time to give London’s best rosé spots for every budget a try.
For London’s biggest rosé list (and an ultra-luxe environment)
Fancy Franco’s in Mayfair are renowned for their longest-in-London rosé list, and this year saw the 10th anniversary of the list’s launch, a decade which has seen them reach a current peak of around 70 rosé wines for sale. From Brangelina’s Chateau Miraval from Provence (custody of the wine is yet to be announced) to classic Taittinger bubbles, all the big names are there, as well as a wide range of boutique producers you haven’t heard of yet – including English rosé wines. The staff are naturally vino experts, and restaurant manager Jason Phillips will happily help with recommendations to guide you on your curated rosé journey. Grab a table outside to people watch Mayfair’s finest as you sip.
Where: 61 Jermyn St, St. James’s, London SW1Y 6LX
For the rosé novice looking to explore
Bringing European-style wine bars to the masses since 2005, Vinoteca offers over 200 wines (25 by the glass) at affordable prices in each of their trendy modern venues across the city. Here you’ll find an international rainbow of rosés, including a fruity Spanish Rosada, a delicate Côtes de Provence and even a bold option from Australia. They regularly host events such as wine tastings and Shop Price Mondays, and the wine-complimenting food menu is also worth a try.
Where: Various locations
For riverside rosé at London’s oldest wine bar
Good old Gordon’s is the go-to spot for many wine drinkers in the capital looking for a decent (read: large) terrace close to the river, but few realise it’s actually London’s oldest wine bar, having been established in 1890. There are three very affordable rosés on the menu, and your chances of getting a table outside even on a sunny day are usually pretty good. What’s not to like?
Where: 47 Villiers St, London WC2N 6NE
For the panoramic view & bargain prices
Ok, so they only actually have one rosé on offer here, but this famous bar makes up for the lack of choice with a panoramic view over the capital, and prices that ensure you can afford at least a few bottles before stumbling to the neighbouring Bussey Building to continue your rosé-fuelled night. At £19 a bottle, it’s probably the cheapest rooftop rosé you’ll find in London, and the cocktails aren’t half bad either. Arrive early to get a good spot for sunset.
Where: 10th Floor, Peckham Multi Story Carpark, 95A Rye Lane, London SE15 4ST
For an array of organic and natural wines
Know your vins biodynamiques from your vins naturels? This charming wine bar close to Trafalgar Square specialises in wines from small, artisan producers who use sustainable and organic techniques in their vineyards. Most are low in sulphites and many unfiltered, so you can expect some unusual tastes (and less of a hangover too), as well as options from all over the world. We love the sparkling NV “Moussamousettes” from Anjou, France, but let their expert staff guide you to the best option. Don’t forget to soak it up with a selection of their delectable charcuterie too.
Where: 5 William IV St, London WC2N 4DN