Mateus Rosé

What do Saddam Hussein, Jimi Hendrix and The Queen have in common? It's sweet, it's fizzy and it's pink

 Illustration: Louise Wyatt

Illustration: Louise Wyatt

Mateus Rosé, with its crazy pink colour, presented in the flask-shaped bottle we know so well, was quaffed by Jimi Hendrix and fuelled Neil Young’s On the Beach. It was found hoarded in Saddam Hussein’s palace after his fall in 2003, and is apparently one of Fidel Castro’s favourite wines. The Queen reputedly drinks it when she dines alone.

Fernando Van Zeller Guedes first produced this sweet, fizzy rosé in the 1940s from Portuguese red grape varieties that were vinificated into white wine. Guedes sent two bottles to Portuguese ambassadors across the world, inviting them to try the wine and give a bottle to a friend.

This distribution strategy really worked, and by the 1970s it was globally popular. Its sweetness and low price appealed to teens, and its exoticness was seen as sophisticated by middle-class families. And it might just be the only thing rock stars, communists, fascists, teenagers and The Queen can agree on.

Words by contributing editor Guy Lochhead