Congratulations if you looked at the title and still decided to read the blog! Particularly if, like me, you were old enough to drink wine in the 1970s. Because, in those far off days, the words ‘Portuguese’ and ‘Rosé’ meant just one thing: the most popular wine of the era, Mateus Rosé, sold in that familiar, dumpy shaped bottle that, when empty, made a perfect base for a table lamp. At its peak, in 1978, it accounted for over 40% of Portugal’s wine exports and sold a cool 42 million bottles in just one year. That’s a lot of table lamps!
Mateus Rosé is still around (and this year celebrates 75 years since it was first produced) but, as readers of this blog will, no doubt, know, it isn’t the only Portuguese rosé on the market.
With summer in mind, I picked up a bottle of Ciconia Rosé from Corks of Cotham recently (£8.99).
A blend of 3 grape varieties: touriga nacional, one of the main components in port and many high quality Portuguese reds, syrah (shiraz) and aragonez, one of the Portuguese names for Spain’s best red grape, Tempranillo. These three together made a wine about as different from my memories of Mateus as it is possible to be: slightly off-dry and really refreshing with attractive strawberry fruit and a clean juicy finish. Great for drinking on its own or, perhaps, even better, with fish in a tomato based sauce (Cod Portuguaise) or a bouillabaisse.
I’m happy to drink rosé at any time of year, although I think it works best with lighter, summery foods. But the wine must be dry – or off-dry at most; for me, the sweeter rosés such as Mateus and some of the commercial White Zinfandels that are widely available are just too sweet for a main course yet not sweet enough for a pudding.
But they sell, so someone loves them – just leave me with the Ciconia, the other Portuguese rosé.