One of most common question we get asked during our tastings is, “How is rosé wine made?“
For the sake of maximizing our tasting time, we keep the answer pretty straight-forward and give the short and sweet explanation of the technique most commonly used today. However, there are in fact several different ways for producing rose wine. There are four techniques total but in this post explain the two most desirable and commonly used- the later two techniques produce either a White Zinfandel-style rose and rose that practically banned by the EU for being just plain phony.
1) Pressed red-skinned grapes – most common
All grape juice is clear. Rose wine is made from red grapes, typically a blend of several varietals. After the grapes are pressed, the grape skins are added back into the clear juice. The pigment in the skins tints the juice pink, and skins are removed after 5-12 hours depending on the desired color. Light, salmon-colored or peach-colored rosés are the style for Provence wines. In places where the production of rose wine is now a big money maker- such as Provence, Tavel, and Bandol the entire crop of grapes gets made into pink wine. This method may result in a bit more phenolic structure than other rose methods.
2) Saignée Method
The oldest, most historical method is known as Saignée, meaning bleeding the vats. Winemakers used this technique when their ultimate goal was to make a red wine and when they wanted to improve the quality of their end product. When the juice was macerating in the grape skins, winemakers would bleed off a portion of the juice was so that the remaining juice would have more skin contact for increased color and tannin. The juice that was removed, tinted pink from just a few hours contact with the grape skins, would not go to waste but instead would be finished and bottled as rosé. With the Saignée method, rosé wine was initially a by-product of red wine. And the rosé wine, being viewed the more inferior product, would often times given out to the field workers as a daily rationed reward! Thanks to France’s dedication to tradition, the Saignée Method is still used today but with a great appreciation of the rosé.