What Is Rosé?
Rosé wine (shortened to Rosé) is made from red wine grapes. The flesh of red wine grapes is as transparent as white wine grapes. Its color is obtained through the red color pigments in the skin of the red wine grapes. Unlike red wine production, where the grape skins are fermented together with the juice, in a process known as "maceration," in Rosé production, the skins are separated from the juice after just a few hours.
The release of pigments from the grape skins during red wine production typically takes several weeks.
When this process is interrupted after just a few hours, very little color is extracted from the grape skins. Winemakers take advantage of this in Rosé production, giving them full control over the wine's color.
Once the juice has taken on a light pink hue, it's pressed off and transferred to another container where it ferments without the skins. Eventually, it's bottled as Rosé wine. Strictly speaking, Rosé wines are fermented red wines that had minimal contact with grape skins.
How Is Rosé Made?
There are several methods to make Rosé:
Rosé Production - Press Method:
In the press method of Rosé production, the winemaker harvests ripe red wine grapes, brings them to the winery, and immediately presses the juice from the grapes. The juice of red wine grapes is a clear, transparent liquid. As mentioned above, only the skins of the grapes provide the color pigments to the wine.
When the juice is pressed from the grape, it comes into contact with the grape's skin, thus becoming colored by the grape skin. Since the contact between the juice and the skin is brief, only a small amount of pigments is extracted from the skin, resulting in a light pink color for the juice.
Rosé Production - Saignée Method:
Saignée means "bleeding" and is one of the most common methods for Rosé production.
Rosés made using the saignée method often have a pale pink color and sometimes exhibit more dark fruit notes of cherries, blackberries, and blueberries. When the harvested grapes are brought to the winery, they are placed in a fermentation vessel and left there for a period of 2 hours to 24 hours. During this time, the grapes break under the weight of the grapes on top of them, and the grape juice is released.
As with direct pressing, the clear grape juice comes into contact with the pigments in the grape skins. The juice is drained from the tank and processed accordingly.
Rosé Production - Maceration Method:
The maceration method is likely the most common method of Rosé production. It's used in regions like Provence in France, as well as in South Africa and other wine regions worldwide. In the maceration method, the red wine grapes are macerated with the skins for some time, and then the entire juice quantity is processed into Rosé wine.
The duration of skin contact and the skin thickness determine the color of the Rosé. This method of Rosé production results in a more complex taste in the Rosé compared to other Rosé production methods.
Rosé Production - Blending (Rosé Sparkling Wine) Method:
This method of Rosé production is very uncommon for still Rosé wines, but it's more prevalent in sparkling wine regions like Champagne. In the blending method (also called the Rosé sparkling wine method), which produces a wide range of light to heavy Rosé wines, a small amount of red wine is added to white wine. Not much red wine is needed for this Rosé production method. 5% - 20% red wine is sufficient to color a white wine pink. Often, this method of Rosé production is not allowed.