What Exactly is Rosé?
With summer in full swing it seems that everywhere you turn there’s rosé. Despite the bad rap it began with (remember white zinfandel?) over the last few years it has became the hottest wine beverage on the market. Wineries all over the world have added rosé to their repertoires.
It now comes in cans, in 40 oz bottles, is made into slushies and flows like water out of most restaurants, pubs, and bars selling the stuff during the warmer months. But, what exactly is rosé?
Wine making methods
Neither a red or a white wine, rosé is primarily made using one of two methods; saignee or skin contact.
The latter, and more common method, starts just like making a red wine. The grapes are crushed and left on the skins for a maceration period.
However, rather than leaving the wine in contact with these skins throughout the fermentation process the skins like a red wine, they are removed after a period typically between two hours to two days.
The resulting wine is neither as dark nor as tannic as a red wine. The length of time that the juice is left in contact with the skins affects both the depth of color and the intensity of flavor. Longer contact results in a darker color and a wine with more ‘grip.’
THE SAIGNEE METHOD
Literally ‘to bleed,’ involves bleeding off (go figure!) juice early on in the winemaking process to increase the concentration of a red wine.
This run off is then fermented separately producing a wine that generally produces a more intense rosé with a darker color and more depth of flavor.
Though this is definitely the more rare of the two methods more and more estates are adopting it. It is particularly popular among producers of big, bold reds such as those coming out of Napa and Sonoma. And why wouldn’t it be? It allows for both the decrease of waste and the opportunity to add another great wine to their repertoire.
While very uncommon there is a third method: blending. It’s as simple as it sounds; red wine is blended with white wine to produce a rosé. It’s much more commonly seen in sparkling wines, such as champagne where it’s common to separately ferment the grapes before blending them together for the final product.
Which rosé to choose?
With so many great rosé options out there it may be a little daunting to find just what you’re looking for. In short, there’s a rosé out there for everyone.
Want to keep it classic, light, and dry? Pick up something from Provence or the Languedoc.
Need something with a little more depth? Italian rosados generally see a bit more skin contact and can pack a bit more punch.
Something a little more serious your style? Check out some of the single vineyard rosés coming out of California. And it doesn’t stop there.
Spain boasts deliciously lightly sparkling txakoli rosés that are laden with minerals and lean just a touch salty while Vihno Verde in Portugal will put one out from time to time with similarly refreshing rosés that lean a bit more fruity.
You can enjoy this wine on it’s own, it is a great “swimming pool” wine. Another option is to use Wine Picker to find the best food and wine match options to enjoy rosé pairing experience in the restaurants.