Rosé Production and Styles

Rosé Production and Styles

17th May 2023

What is Rosé Wine and How is it Produced?

Rosé means pink in French, so it’s no surprise that all rosé wines are pink. To get that beautiful colour that ranges from bright cherry to pale salmon, winemakers must use red grapes. Only red-skinned grapes have the pigments needed to give the wine hues of red. Although white grapes can also be used in blends.

Rosé winemaking involves a specific process that aims to extract colour and flavours from grape skins while maintaining the wine's freshness and fruitiness. Here's an overview of the typical rosé winemaking process:

Grape Selection: Rosé wines can be made from different red grape varieties, including Grenache, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The choice of grape variety influences the flavour profile and style of the resulting wine.

Harvest and Destemming: Grapes are harvested when they have reached the desired level of ripeness. They are then destemmed to remove the stems and separate the grape berries from any unwanted debris.

Skin Contact: Unlike in red winemaking, where prolonged skin contact is desired, in rosé winemaking, the grape skins are typically in contact with the juice for a shorter period. The berries are crushed, and the skins are left in contact with the juice for a few hours to a couple of days. This allows the extraction of colour, flavours, and aromas from the skins, imparting the desired pink or salmon hue to the wine.

Juice Separation: After the desired amount of skin contact, the juice is separated from the grape skins through pressing or draining. The extracted juice is then fermented separately from the skins.

Fermentation: The juice undergoes fermentation, usually in stainless steel tanks, at controlled temperatures. Fermentation can be carried out with the help of indigenous or selected yeast strains. The fermentation process converts the natural sugars in the grape juice into alcohol.

Blending: In some cases, winemakers may choose to blend different batches or varieties of rosé wine to achieve a desired flavour profile or complexity. This step allows them to create a consistent house style or experiment with different flavour combinations.

Ageing and Bottling: After fermentation, the wine may undergo a short period of ageing, typically in stainless steel tanks, to preserve the fresh and fruity characteristics. Some rosé wines, particularly those made in the traditional method, may undergo additional ageing in bottles to develop more complexity. Finally, the wine is bottled, often sealed with a closure such as a cork or screw cap.

It's important to note that rosé winemaking techniques can vary depending on the desired style and the preferences of the winemaker. Some winemakers may choose to use more traditional methods, such as bleeding off a portion of juice from red wine fermentations (saignée method), while others may opt for direct pressing or a combination of techniques.

Can’t winemakers blend white wine and red wine to make rosé? They can, but it’s not only frowned upon but forbidden in many places. There are a few exceptions, like Champagne, where blending a splash of red wine with white wine results in one of the most extraordinary sparkling rosé wines in the world!

Overall, the goal of rosé winemaking is to create a wine that exhibits the refreshing and fruity characteristics of white wines while incorporating the colour and structure typically associated with red wines. The process requires careful attention to timing, temperature control, and blending to achieve the desired balance and expression in the final rosé wine.

Not All Rosé is Created Equal

Every bottle of Rosé is different. For starters, producers can use any red grape to make rosé, from Pinot Noir and Grenache to Tempranillo - everything goes. Note that in some blends white grape varieties can also be used. Then you have the wine’s sweetness. Rosé is often refreshingly tart and dry but can be semi-sweet or downright luscious. Rosé can also be still, sparkling or fortified, so you can taste rosé daily without repetition.

Of course, some wine regions have earned a reputation for the quality of their rosé. Provence, in southern France, might just be the most famous Rosé wine region on the planet, but those coming from Italy and even the New World are just as exciting. The best part? Rosé’s quality is overall high, so pick with your eyes closed, and you won’t be disappointed.

Rosé Wine Styles

Rosé wine comes in a variety of styles, each offering a unique taste profile and character. These styles can vary based on factors such as grape varieties, winemaking techniques, and regional influences.

Provence Style: Hailing from the Provence region in France, this style is known for its pale, delicate pink colour and light-bodied nature. Provence rosés often feature a dry and crisp profile with refreshing acidity. They typically showcase flavours of fresh berries, citrus fruits, and floral notes. Provence rosés are renowned for their elegant and sophisticated character.

White Zinfandel: Originating from California, White Zinfandel is a slightly sweet rosé style. It is made from the Zinfandel grape, but the skins are removed early in the winemaking process, resulting in a lighter colour and a sweeter taste. White Zinfandel offers flavours of ripe strawberries, watermelon, and tropical fruits, with a touch of residual sugar. It is a popular and approachable style, often enjoyed as a refreshing summer wine.

Spanish Rosado: Spain produces a range of rosé wines known as Rosado. These wines can vary in colour, ranging from pale pink to vibrant salmon hues. Spanish Rosado often offers a medium-bodied profile with balanced acidity and fruity flavours. They may exhibit notes of red berries, cherries, and hints of herbs. Some regions in Spain, such as Navarra and Rioja, are particularly renowned for their quality Rosado wines.

Tavel: Tavel is an esteemed rosé wine style from the Rhône Valley in France. It is known for its deep pink to coral colour and fuller-bodied characteristics. Tavel wines have a dry profile with a round and robust mouthfeel. They often display complex flavours of ripe red fruits, herbs, and spices. Tavel rosés are known for their age-worthy nature, and they can develop further complexity with time.

Sparkling Rosé: Sparkling rosé wines add a touch of effervescence to the rosé category. They can be made using different methods, such as the traditional method (méthode traditionnelle) or Charmat method. Sparkling rosés offer a wide range of styles, from delicate and fruity to richer and more complex. They can exhibit flavours of red berries, stone fruits, and subtle yeasty notes. Sparkling rosés are often enjoyed as celebratory wines or as aperitifs.

These are just a few examples of rosé wine styles, and there are many other regional variations and unique expressions around the world. Whether you prefer a pale and dry Provençal rosé or a slightly sweeter and fruit-forward style, the versatility of rosé wines provides a wide range of options to suit different palates and occasions.

It’s Always a Good Time for Rosé

Rosé is a fantastic apéritif to enjoy before dinner; you can enjoy rosé at BBQ parties or summer parties by the pool. Rosé also has a place on the table, as it is compatible with vegetarian dishes, seafood, white fish, and white meat. When sweet, you can even pair rosé with dessert! No other wine style is as versatile as rosé.

Explore our collection of rosé wine in the UK and order your favourite wines in just a few clicks. Of course, always having a bottle of rosé in the fridge is a wonderful habit.

You can browse our full list of Rosé wines here!

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