Rosé Port is a relatively recent variation introduced onto the market, first released in 2008 by the ‘Croft’ Port House (being first made in 2005). It is technically a Ruby style Port, but fermented in a similar process to a rosé wine with a limited exposure to grape skins, thus creating a rosé colour and style of wine.
This style of Port is still in its relative infancy, with only a small number of Port Houses to date having crafted and produced this style of port. Though a few Rosé Port brands, in ideal international markets during summer - have enjoyed some early success.
Back in 2009 ‘The Port Wine Institute’ based in Lisbon, made Rosé Port an official category following the high profile launch of Croft Pink.
The House of 'Croft' claims to be the first Rosé Port of its kind (though Poças quickly released one in Portugal not too far behind). This innovative new style of port has been made as mentioned in a similar winemaking technique to crafting rosé wine; extracting fresh, fruit flavours and producing a subtle and delicate pink-rosé colour. The resulting Port is pleasingly fresh and vibrant, but has full, rich fruit flavours similar to that of a Ruby Port but with a unique and distinctive lifted appeal.
The challenge for crafting Rosé Port is how to capture these characters without letting the intense tannic character of the Douro grape varietals and the fortification process dominate the finished wine. Rosé Port as with traditional Port Wines can be made from the five traditional port grape varietals; Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca, Tinta Roriz, Tinto Cão and Tinta Barroca, with a final alcohol of up to 20%.
Using rosé wine vinification process to extract a light amount of colour from the skins without extracting astringent tannins which would make the palate of this light style of Port aggressive. They typically use a cold-socking technique prior to fermentation - along with a cool fermentation are fundamental to enhance the freshness of fruit and its elegance on the palate. Both vinification and even aging are carried out in stainless steel tanks to retain and keep the Port fresh. Fermentation occurs under controlled, low temperatures (between 14-16ºC), which ensures the consistency of a light style, fruit driven wine. Like the other Port Wines, the fermentation is stopped by adding grape brandy, resulting in a fortified rosé wine.
The resulting Rosé Port has attractive floral notes, supported by aromatic raspberry fruit aromas. The palate is full of deliciously ripe red cherries, raspberries and ripe wild strawberry fruit flavours with lifted nuances of honeysuckle and even sweet watermelon. Some Rosé Port have a fine bouquet of tropical fruits and are fresh on the palate with mango and guava flavours and a long elegant finish.
Pink Port is fresh and vibrant but lighter on the palate than traditional red port especially when served chilled, over ice or even is a cocktail. Some restaurants have been serving Rosé Port with chilli, spritz it with soda and fresh fruit, plus you can drizzle it over raspberry sorbet, serve it tall with equal amounts of cold herbal teas, or orange bitters and ginger beer.
Rosé Port wines should be enjoyed in periods of 2-4 months after opening the bottle, stored in a dark cool place, and preferably served cold at 6-8ºC.