Serendipity plays more than a part in this column and no more so than today.

Prior to some members of my family returning to University, we arranged a brief respite in France. The trip was part research and development (a guilt free term I have discovered to taste wine at any time of the day) and part relaxation. Our destination was the départment of Var in Central Provence. Our town of choice was Draguignan, a wine and olive capital cooled by Alpine hills to the North and scorched by Mediterranean breezes from the South. My chosen subject of research was Provencal Rosé.

I had taken the normal reading matter to bone up on the local food and drink down there.

In addition, a cutting from the EDP prior to departure had both caught my eye and juddered my perceptions. The article led me to track its source, which was a newly published Mintel report on our National Alcoholic Preferences, in order to accompany my journey. It was entitled Cider with Rosé (Laurie Lee would probably have been tickled pink). Mintel reported that sales of lager had, since 2005, declined by 5% and was expected to plummet a further 8% by 2012. A little unsurprising I thought, as was the quote that “volume sales of wine and cider increased steadily, up 6% between 2005 and 2007”. What stopped me in my tracks was the following, ‘Rosé or Blush is the rising star of the wine world. With volume sales having increased 188% since 2005, up from 17 billion litres to a staggering 49 million litres this year’.

Rosé has had some pretty bad press for the last 20 years, created in part by the blanket bombing of Notting Hill and South Kensington Bistros by Mateus, followed by a land invasion of some very indifferent Rosés from Anjou.

Indeed I can conceive of very few drinking establishments in Norfolk 17 years ago, when I first moved to the county, who would not have evicted me for requesting a glass of pink wine.

Today by contrast, I can walk into somewhere like the Last Wine Bar in Central Norwich and be offered a selection of up to six Rosé’s by the glass. Why the dramatic change I thought?

In the past Rosé wines have been created by a host of dubious production measures, but for today’s wine enthusiast the legitimacy of grape maceration is preferred.

Such maceration, or steeping of red grape skins with their juice, extracts colour from the skins in the form of anthocyanins. The length of time of such steeping will influence the depth of colour of the wine. In brief, the shorter the time the lighter the wine. Hence the appearance of some delicately coloured Rosés after only two hours of such activity, after which the skins are removed to prevent any further extraction.

Many wine making countries in the world, who’s reputation has depended on the supreme quality of their red wines, have in the past been somewhat bemused by Rosé. Not so long ago their simple answer was to mix red and white wine which resulted in that most Californian of descriptions – Blush.

But for wine makers seeking authentic Rosés to be consumed during scorching hot days, where fuller reds would taste more like ink than grape juice, the French and the Spanish have led the field. Down in Provence I discovered Rosés warranting Grand Cru status with their light salmon-pink colour and delightful mineral extract, some of the Rosé I tasted had even been the subject of judicial oak influence, a far cry from some of the more tourist-supported skittle shaped bottles of the region often containing insipid wines of little interest. In Spain, the world’s largest producer of Rosé (Rosado), great strides are evident in Rioja and Navarra where the Garnacha (Grenache) grape is used to produce the perfect partner to the olive, salt and chilli influenced tapas cuisine.

Now winemakers in the New World have heard the clarion call and have been building Rosé from a host of indigenous grapes. Beware though, not of their evident quality, but of Southern Hemisphere winemakers continued desire to inject such Rosés with the alcoholic strength of a Pinotage or Shiraz – deceptively enjoyable but often leading to an afternoon coma.

Supermarkets though, have in general been slow off the mark to provide for our new wine of choice with far too much emphasis on that ubiquitous Californian brand, tasting more of wine gums than wine.

The association of Rosés with a lighter, healthier diet has clearly been a major influence on our sea-change and the baton for Rosé appears to be carried by the plethora of delicatessens springing up in our country almost daily.

For those near the South of the region, Bistro at he Deli in Saxmundham presently holds more than a dozen Rosés, closer to home the newly opened O’Deli’s at Taverham sport 20 Rosé’s, from around the world.

Do not let an indifferent summer affect your choice, Rosés can be drunk on their own, as an aperitif, with shellfish or paté. Do not wait until the bar-b-que, just pop into your local wine bar and join the throng.

With a note of optimism to my patient bank manager, Paul, a convert to wines of Southern France, it is clear the country has begun to move out of the red, but as yet only into the pink.