Rosé Three Ways: How it's Made
Rosé bursted into the millennial wine scene like a drunk frat boy at his first college party; fast, loud, and greeted with hesitation. And of course, like any trend that loves to disrupt the age old world of vino, it’s making huge waves. Major wine regions that previously scoffed at Rosé are quickly adapting to the generational shift, and experimenting with their own versions of the delicious drink. Nearly every major wine region in France now produces their own Rosé, with their sales superseding both red and white wine.
I can shamelessly say that I’ve hopped on the Rosé train amidst all of the hype. It’s an incredibly versatile drink. And with such a large variety of choices these days, you are bound to find a bottle of Rosé that you love.
I’ve wanted to write a post on Rosé for a while, and there are an infinite amount of topics that I could cover on this pink drink. The history of Rosé, the varying taste from region to region, myths surrounding the drink (it is not the same as blush wine), different styles of Rosé, or even its rags to riches story (literally - Rosé used to be seen as a peasant drink. It was originally the mixing of red and white wine and was often consumed by working class citizens). But for today I’ll round out the end of an era, Rosé season, with an entire blog post dedicated to how it’s made. There are three main techniques, and the most popular method may not be what you think.
Method One: The Popular One
By and large the most popular technique among vineyards is the limited skin maceration method. I like to think of this method as a blend between how white wine and red wine is produced. As you might know, the main difference between red and white production comes down to the skin. The skins are left on the red grape during fermentation. This creates that fancy wine term, tannins. White grapes are stripped of their skin before fermentation, which often explains its nearly colorless appearance.
The limited skin maceration approach involves a little bit of both methods. With this Rosé technique, the grapes are crushed, and the skin is left in contact with the juice. But the skins are only left on for a limited amount of time, unlike red wine fermentation. This amount of time can range anywhere from a few hours to two days, and the length will determine what color Rosé you end up with. The less time the skin is in contact, the lighter in color your Rosé will appear. After the juice is soaked, it is drawn off the skin and can now begin fermentation.
Method Two: The Underdog
The Saignée method, translated from French, means “to bleed.” Which is the exact approach taken when creating this Rosé. It’s very similar to the method described above, but involves “bleeding” off a portion of red wine juice after it has been in contact with the skins. It is typically left with the skin on for the same amount of time as the limited maceration method (2 hours to a few days). But after it soaks, and before it is brought to fermentation, a portion of the red wine’s juices are bled off. The idea behind this method is to increase red wine concentration in the wine. So if you aren’t a fan of the typical Rosé you’d see in your grocery store, try picking up a bottle made in the Saignee method. It’s often heavier, stronger, and darker. Perfect for the red wine drinker.
Method Three: The Stereotype
A lot of people think that Rosé is made from mixing red and white wine together. Which makes sense, given its color. This isn’t necessarily untrue, but it is the least common and surprisingly, the most difficult. The blending method is when finished red wine is mixed into finished white wine. Since it doesn’t take much to change the color of a white wine, there is usually only a trace of red in the final product.
Given everything that goes into the wine making process, it’s extremely difficult to mix two finished products together to create a drink that tastes good. This method is also so controversial that it’s actually illegal in most French regions.
Drinking Rosé is like wearing white after labor day. The season is coming to a close, and drinking Rosé in the winter is social taboo. Soon we’ll have to say goodbye to this delicious drink until the next warm weather season, because I guess that’s like the thing to do. But for the next few weeks, while you sip this incredible drink, soaking up the last few drops of nice weather, you can brag to your friends on your newfound Rosé education. And also if you see me drinking a glass of Rosé in the dead of winter, mind your business.
Do you absolutely hate Rosé? Let me know in the comments below and I'll let you know why you are wrong!
HUGE Thank you to Gavyn Taylor Photography for the original imagery! If you are in the Denver area, and need professional photos taken, I highly recommend her. She is awesome.